Drew Cochran, of Cochran, Cochran & Chhabra - Cochran Gives Tips Gives Tips on Understanding Maryland's DUI Laws Before Drivers Hit the Roads for Spring Break

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Drunk driving laws in Maryland are as strict as they are complicated and have changed from the .08 limit to a lower limit says Drew Cochran, from the Annapolis law firm Cochran, Cochran & Chhabra. Mr. Cochran gives tips on what the law means and how drivers can determine if they've hit the limit before they hit the roads.

Drew Cochran, Cochran, Cochran & Chhabra

Maryland's drunk driving laws are as strict as they are complicated and they have changed from .08, says Drew Cochran.

Maryland's drunk driving laws are as strict as they are complicated and they have changed from .08 says Drew Cochran, from the Annapolis law firm Cochran, Cochran & Chhabra. Mr. Cochran explains when the legal driving limit is .08 and when it’s not and offers tips on how drivers can tell if they've hit the limit before the spring break season.

‘Both Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) refer to the illegal act of driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs,’ says Mr. Cochran, who’s tried hundreds of DUI and DWI cases. “The difference lies in what the letters mean. DUI designates driving under the influence, while DWI refers to driving while intoxicated. While they may sound identical on the surface, they are charged as separate crimes.”

Both offenses can have a serious impact on a drivers’ personal and work life. That's why it's so important to understand the law, your rights and your legal options when facing charges, Mr. Cochran added.

In Maryland, Mr. Cochran explains, a driver can be convicted of a DUI if he or she operates a motor vehicle with a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A driver can be convicted of a DWI if he or she has a .07 BAC, or if the driver appears intoxicated at the time of their arrest.

“A DUI conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine,” said Mr. Cochran. “A DWI conviction carries a maximum penalty of up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine. Both the jail time and the fines will double on your second conviction.”

Drivers also face suspension of their driver's license by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). The length of the suspension will depend on the BAC and whether the driver refused a Breathalyzer test.

“If your BAC was .15 or higher, the only way you will be able to drive for the next year will be with an ignition interlock device installed on your car,” Mr. Cochran said. “It’s important to remember that the legal limits have changed and know that just two drinks can lead to the legal definition of impairment.”

Here are tips on how to approximate whether you are approaching the legal limit based on your weight, how much you have had to drink, and how long you have been drinking:

  •     If you are around 100 lbs., you can generally only have about one serving of alcohol before being over 0.08
  •     However, a person is closer to 160 lbs. can have about 3 servings of alcohol and still be below the legal limit for driving
  •     A good rule of thumb to use is that no matter what your weight is, if you have had three servings of alcohol in rapid succession you are most likely over the legal limit for blood alcohol level when driving.
  •     Your blood alcohol level will also depend on how much time you have spent drinking. If you have a spaced your drinks out over a lengthy period of time, such as the span of a few hours, your blood alcohol level is going to be significantly lower than if you had the same amount of drinks in the span of one hour.

“Keep in mind the amount of alcohol that constitutes 1 serving differs depending on the type of drink,” said Mr. Cochran. “For example, 12 oz. of hard liquor is a far greater amount of alcohol than 12 oz. of beer, and as a result will have a much greater impact on your blood alcohol level.”

“Generally, the rule is 1 serving of alcohol is equal to 1 oz. of 100 proof liquor, a 12 oz. beer, or 4 oz. of table wine,” he said.

Though the amount of drinks, the drinker's weight, and the time between drinks tend to play the largest roles in estimating a person's blood alcohol level, there are some other factors that can play a role as well:

  •     Fatigue: exhaustion can significantly increase a person's blood alcohol level when they are drinking. Keep in mind, even if you have not had much to drink, fatigue can adversely affect your judgment just as alcohol can
  •     Medications: some types of medications can have adverse side affects when taken with alcohol, so be sure to check the warning labels on any medications (prescriptive or over the counter) you take
  •     Food: drinking on an empty stomach can increase your blood alcohol level significantly more than if you been eating before or while you were drinking

About Cochran, Cochran and Chhabra
Cochran, Cochran and Chhabra are a Maryland law firm providing clients in Annapolis, Baltimore and throughout Maryland with representation by skilled attorneys in state, federal and appellate courts. Our lawyers provide legal advice and representation in DUI, criminal defense, personal injury and auto accident cases. For more information please visit http://www.ccc-law.com

For media inquiries or interviews, please contact Karen McGagh at 443.632.4217

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