Although harsh penalties exist for drunk drivers, drunk driving remains a problem throughout the country. According to Maryland’s most recent statistics, crashes involving the use of alcohol or drugs amount to nearly 7,000 per year. To minimize the risk of Maryland DUI crashes, the state has imposed criminal penalties and license sanctions for those convicted of an impaired driving offense. For a first offense DUI, drivers face up to a $1,000 fine, up to one year in jail, 12 points assessed on one’s driving record, and license revocation for up to six months. Since 2016, drivers are also required to participate in Maryland’s Ignition Interlock Program following certain convictions.
Victims of a Maryland drunk driving crash may be able to recover financial compensation from a drunk driver. A victim in a DUI crash alleging that negligence must prove that the driver had a duty to the victim, the driver was negligent in acting or failing to act in some way, the driver’s actions caused the victim’s injuries, and the victim suffered damages. Evidence that a driver was arrested or convicted of a DUI offense is generally admissible in Maryland in a civil case against the driver. Victims may be able to recover financial compensation for property damages, medical bills, pain and suffering, wage losses, and other damages depending on the circumstances.
In a civil case, a victim must prove the case by the preponderance of the evidence standard. This is a lower standard than in a criminal case, and some evidence may be admissible in a civil case that is not admissible in a criminal case, which means that a civil case may still be viable even if a driver was not convicted of a DUI offense in a criminal court. Other parties may also be liable after a DUI crash, including a bar or other establishment that served the drunk driver, or another individual who allowed the driver to access the vehicle and drive drunk.