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Proposed Legislation Involves Tougher Penalties for People Causing Injuries in Drunk Driving Crashes

Washington County State Delegate Brett Wilson recently proposed new legislation that would stiffen the penalties for people who cause serious injuries due to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The potential new law would change some language in Maryland’s existing criminal statutes related to the penalties for injuries resulting from accidents impaired or drunk drivers cause. As it currently exists, the language is “life-threatening injury caused by motor vehicle or vessel under the influence,” but the proposal calls for this to be changed to “serious physical injury.”

The penalty would be a misdemeanor conviction with a maximum fine of $5,000 and a maximum prison sentence of three years for a first-offense DUI, along with a maximum fine of $3,000 and a maximum prison sentence of two years for a first-offense DWI.  A second offense would result in a maximum five-year prison sentence and up to $10,000 in fines.

Reasons behind the proposal

One of the main reasons for the potential change, aside from the desire to get tougher on people who commit DUI and DWI offenses, is that there is nothing in the law that defines what is considered a “life-threatening injury.” The bill would add some clarity by defining a “serious physical injury” as one characterized by “significant impairment or disfigurement.”

The bill was born from a case in Washington County in which a victim permanently lost the use of his arm after a drunk driving crash, but the maximum penalty the driver could receive was a one-year license suspension. Del. Wilson estimates the changes to the law would affect between 15 and 20 cases each year. He says it is important for the law to contextualize the severity of the injury when determining penalties for both DUI and DWI.

For more information on the steps you should take if you have been injured in an accident resulting from impaired driving, contact a skilled La Plata personal injury lawyer with Mudd, Mudd & Fitzgerald, P.A.

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