Maryland's Graduated Licensing System
What Young Drivers Need to Know About
Driving, Drinking, and Drugs
Your driver’s license is a passport to mobility. Once you’ve successfully completed all requirements, you’re awarded the privilege to drive.
But this privilege comes with a great deal of responsibility. Irresponsible driving can lead to senseless deaths, personal injury, and property damage. Drinking or using drugs and driving significantly increases chances of being involved in an accident. It could even contribute to you or someone else losing their life.
This information will help you understand your role, responsibilities and the possible penalties when drinking alcohol, using or possessing drugs and driving.
When You Crash, You Kill
Did you know that 15 to 20 year-old drivers are the highest risk group for a fatal crash? Seventy percent of fatalities in this age group involve the use of alcohol. Night driving statistics are even worse:
Of that 50+ percent, 21% of those involved were intoxicated by alcohol.
When Cops Will Stop You
Police officers are authorized to stop and detain any person when they have reasonable ground to believe the individual is, or has been, driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle:
Signing a Maryland’s driver’s license or learner’s permit application form enters you into an agreement. It says that if you are detained by a police officer who suspects you’re driving or attempting to drive under the influence or intoxicated by alcohol an/or drugs, you agree to submit to a chemical test of your blood, breath or urine. This is called a Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC test.
The penalty for violating this agreement is an automatic 120-day license suspension. If you are detained a second time, refusal to take the BAC test will result in an automatic one-year suspension of your driving privileges.
If a police officer suspects a person has been drinking and is behind the wheel, the officer can request the driver take a BAC test. If you submit to it, and your level of alcohol registers at a concentration of .08 or more, you are legally considered intoxicated.
If you are legally intoxicated, the MVA can impose penalties:
Penalties are even greater if the offense occurred while the driver is transporting someone under 18. If transporting a minor, the driver may face a fine of up to $4,000 and a prison sentence of up to four years.
Be warned that MVA actions may be taken even if you are not found guilty of using alcohol and driving. In addition to MVA actions, you may still face other penalties imposed by the district court, such as fines and jail time, if you’re convicted of charges arising from the same incident.
You are at risk of losing your vehicle insurance coverage also. Under the terms of automobile insurance policies, insurance companies may cancel or refuse to cover you if you are driving or attempting to drive under the influence of alcohol, impaired by drugs or alcohol, or by a controlled dangerous substance.
You don’t have to be drunk to lose your driver’s license! Maryland law states that no one under 21 may consume any alcohol. If a driver under age 21 has been drinking – even just one beer or less – and their blood alcohol concentration level is .02 or more, the driver has violated this restriction and the license may be suspended or revoked. The driver may also face a fine of up to $500.
Did you know that if you are driving a vehicle in which drugs are found, the vehicle can be seized and impounded? This law applies regardless of who brings the drugs into the vehicle. So even a passenger in your car who may be in possession of drugs can cost you your vehicle.
As you know, when you’re under 18 in Maryland, you must have a parent, guardian or other qualifying adult co-sign your license application for consent for you to drive.
But did you know that a co-signer can write a letter and withdraw their consent, allowing the MVA to suspend your license? The suspension remains in effect until either the minor reaches the age of 18 or another qualified adult co-signs.
Under Maryland’s Rookie Driver program, provisional license holders under 18 are prohibited from driving between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m., unless accompanied by a licensed driver, at least 21 years old.
Rookie Driver Provisional Licenses require conviction-free driving before one can be eligible for a full driver’s license. Additional restrictions may also be given when a provisional license holder violates the conditions of the license.
It’s illegal to misrepresent your age or to help someone else do so for any reason, including to illegally buy or possess alcoholic beverages. Using someone else’s driver’s license, ID card or a fake ID will cost you:
Once you’re involved in a crash or someone has been hurt or killed, it’s too late to make another choice. Don’t break laws or abuse driving privileges. Consequences of your choices will follow you the rest of your life.