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Maryland DUI Sentencing Guidelines Subject of Debate

Under Maryland state law, homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 on a first offense. A second offense carries a maximum of 10 years’ incarceration and a $10,000 fine. It’s important to note that these are maximum sentences, and the actual sentence is up to the discretion of the judge overseeing the case. He or she could choose to impose softer penalties depending on the circumstances of the crash. In addition, while a criminal defense attorney and prosecutor could agree to a plea deal, it’s up to the judge to approve it. Critics want tougher DUI penalties Many people within the legal community in Maryland believe the sentencing guidelines could be harsher and that the current guidelines do not successfully alter drivers’ behaviors. Maryland did recently enact Noah’s Law, which implemented tougher penalties for first-time driving under the influence (DUI) offenders, including mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. However, many officers and activists say this law is only a start to solve the problem. There are not, for example, any mandatory minimums for DUI offenses, even in cases in which a crash results in a fatality. Others urge caution when discussing mandatory minimums, saying they often fail to allow judges to consider the circumstances of individual cases, forcing them to impose penalties that may not be appropriate. For more information on how judges in Maryland handle DUI sentencing, consult a dedicated La Plata criminal defense lawyer at Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.