• Maryland’s Statutory Presumptions for DUI Offenses

DUI / DWI Charge Defense Lawyer

Maryland is commonly referred to as a two-tiered state for DUI and DWI offenses. The more serious offense, commonly referred to as an (a) offense, refers to a violation of Maryland Transportation Article 21 – 902(a). This is the driving under the influence of alcohol charge. The lesser offense, commonly referred to as (b) offense, refers to a violation of Maryland Transportation Article 21 – 902(b). This is the driving while impaired charge.

There are two ways to be found guilty of the (a) offense, and two ways to be found guilty of the (b) offense.

As for the (a) offense, the State has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by way of showing substantial impairment as a result of alcohol consumption. This is commonly referred to as the “straight” (a), or a violation of Maryland Transportation Article 21 – 902(a)(1). This offense has nothing to do with a breath or blood sample. The alternative way to prove an (a) offense is commonly referred to as the “per se” violation. The State would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the driver had a breath or blood alcohol content of .08 or more. The term “per se” means that it is presumed that the driver is under the influence of alcohol. This would be a violation of Maryland Transportation Article 21 – 902(a)(2).

As for the (b) offense, the State has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by showing impairment to a lesser degree than substantial as a result of alcohol consumption. The second way the State can do this is by way of showing a breath or blood sample of .07 or more. At a .07, it is considered “prima facie” evidence that the person is impaired by alcohol. The term “prima facie” means, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, evidence good and sufficient on its face. Such evidence as, in the judgment of the law, is sufficient to establish a given facts, or the group or chain of facts constituting the parties claim or defense, and which if not rebutted or contradicted, will remain sufficient.

If the driver’s breath or blood result is .06, there are no statutory presumptions whatsoever. This means that the State can try to prove guilt for the 21 902(a) or (b) offenses by introducing poor performance on the standardized field sobriety tests, as well as any other observations that the Officer makes.

If the driver’s breath or blood result is .05 or less, it shall be presumed that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol and that the person was not driving while impaired by alcohol. However, this is a rebuttable presumption. This means that the State can still try to prove guilt for the 21-902(a) or (b) offenses by introducing poor performance on the standardized field sobriety tests, as well as any other observations that the Officer makes.

Lastly, if the driver has a breath or blood result of .02 or more, it shall be prima facie evidence that person was driving in violation of an alcohol restriction on his or her Driver’s License. Every driver under the age of 21 with a Maryland License has an alcohol restriction on his or her Driver’s License. Also, a Court, an Administrative Law Judge, or the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration may impose an alcohol restriction on a Driver’s License, regardless of the age of the driver.