DUI Drug and Alcohol and Drug Interactions in Anne Arundel County
Interestingly enough, the penalties for § 21-902 (c) that are drug interaction with alcohol or a combination of drugs and alcohol are lower than penalties for § 21-902 (a) which is for DUI alcohol. Penalties for a violation of § 21-902 (c) (drug DUI) are similar to the penalties for violation of § 21-902 (d) which is the lesser alcohol related drunk driving offense. The difference between § 21-902 (a) and § 21-902 (d) is that § 21-902 (a) is drunk driving, and § 21-902 (d) is buzzed driving. Prescription drugs and drug interaction cases are the violations of § 21-902 (c) which has same penalties as the § 21-902 (b) offense of maximum six days in prison. The penalties are actually lower if the impairment is by a combination of drugs and alcohol than if the individual was found to violate § 21-902 (a), drunk driving.
Levels of Impairment
The Maryland Transportation Code § 21-902 (a) is for significant impairment. The difference between subsections (a) and (c) is the level of impairment. Even mild impairment under § 21-902 (c) can be could result in conviction; for § 21-902 (a), there must be significant impairment.
For example, when an individual has a breath alcohol content of .09 percent and a potential drug interaction, the state may not prosecute on §21-902 (c). They would rather prosecute on the § 21-902 (a)(2) the DUI per se, driving with a .08 percent or higher; the penalties are higher.
For individuals charged with those potential violati ons at a DUI stop, the state decides which ones they are going to prosecute. In a situation where there is alcohol and drugs present in the person’s system, if alcohol is a .08 percent or higher, unless there are exceptional circumstance, the state will be prosecuting alcohol related DUI.
Mistakes at Trial
It is rare that a defense attorney argues that his or her client’s charge should be under § 21-902 (c) instead of § 21-902 (a). That usually happens when the state does not charge the person with a § 21-902 (c) violation. There have been DUI alcohol cases where the defense attorney argued the case should be a § 21-902 (c) prosecution. Because the state did not charge the individual for a violation of § 21-902 (c), the case resulted in acquittal for the alcohol impairment. This is a rare occurrence and it involves significant mistakes made throughout the process of the case. Those mistakes include the officer making the mistake of not charging the individual with a § 21-902 (c) offense and the prosecution did not catch the error before the trial of the case began.
Cases of Low Amounts of Alcohol/Medication Consumed
The statute does not identify amounts that someone consumed, it talks about impairment. Even when a person uses a legal prescription drug and it interacts with very small amount of alcohol, if it causes impairment it can result in a violation of § 21-902 (c). There is no per se drug limit.
Unexpected Impairment or Drug Interactions
A person might take a prescription medication that causes impairment and not even be aware of it. An individual who takes a substance such as Ambien each night may unconsciously get outside of their house, step into their car and start driving. They have no recollection of the event, they had no intent to operate a motor vehicle, it happened while they were sleep walking because of the Ambien. Unfortunately, that situation is not a defense to impaired driving. The only kind of potential defense is involuntary intoxication. Involuntary intoxication is when somebody slips something into a person’s drink. That would be a defense for drug impaired driving. An unexpected interaction is not a defense.