It is unlawful to drive in Maryland if you are impaired by drugs or alcohol to the point that you cannot drive a vehicle safely. While the law is different depending on whether the drug is an illegal drug (also called a “controlled dangerous substance” or “CDS”), or a legal drug, it is unlawful to drive while impaired by either.
I can defend you from these serious charges. Driving while impaired by drugs or CDS offenses can result in the loss of your ability to drive, and criminal penalties including incarceration, but it does not have to be that way. I can defend your freedom and your very valuable right to drive.
What can I expect if I am stopped for driving while impaired by drugs or CDS?
Drug or CDS impaired driving cases usually start when the officer sees you driving poorly, and then starts to suspect that you may have been using drugs along with or instead of alcohol. In most cases where the officer suspects impaired driving due to drugs or CDS, the officer will request that you perform roadside sobriety tests to help prove impairment, and then request a blood draw or have a Drug Recognition Examiner (also known as a DRE) perform an evaluation in order to prove that a drug or controlled dangerous substance is involved. Roadside sobriety testing usually consists of three tests in Maryland, the walk and turn, one legged stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test (which involves staring at a moving object while the officer looks for jerky eye motion). A DRE evaluation is a pseudo-scientific evaluation by a police officer looking for a list of cues to evaluate whether you may be under the influence of a drug.
Do I have to participate in the officer’s tests if I am suspected of drugged driving?
You are not required to submit to an evaluation by a DRE, or perform other sobriety tests, like the walk and turn, one legged stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus test. You are not required to blow into a portable breath testing device at the roadside. Your license can be suspended or revoked in Maryland by the Motor Vehicle Administration for failing to submit to a chemical test for breath or blood. A refusal of a chemical test can also increase your maximum sentence by two months and $500 if you are later convicted of a drunk or drugged driving offense in court.
What does impaired mean?
The standard for impairment is more stringent for a legal drug than it is for an illegal drug. There is also a knowledge requirement for legal drugs that does not exist for illegal drugs. In order to be impaired by a legal drug, or a combination of legal drugs and alcohol, you must be so impaired that you cannot drive a vehicle safely. This is a higher standard than the one for driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance. Driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance only requires that your normal coordination be impaired to some degree.
What if I didn’t know the drug would affect me that way?
In the case of a drug or controlled dangerous substance that you used legally, it is a defense that the driver was not aware that the drug or that combination of drugs or alcohol would make the driver incapable of safely driving a vehicle. This could happen, for example, if the impairment was an unexpected side effect, rather than the primary and expected effect of the drug. If you illegally used the drug or CDS, your awareness of the effect of the drug is not required.
What is the maximum sentence for driving while impaired by drugs or CDS?
These are maximum sentences, which I can help you avoid, and are not typical in an effectively represented case. I will help you avoid these harsh penalties, often in their entirety, and ensure that your case is concluded in a way that is reasonable and fair to you, which should not include jail at all in most cases.
Driving while impaired by drugs or drugs and alcohol, which is the subsection that includes legal drugs, TA 21-902(c), is punishable by up to 2 months and $500 for a first offense, 1 year and $500 for a second offense, and 3 years and $3000 for a third or subsequent offense. If you are transporting a minor, the maximum penalty increases to 6 months and $1000 for a first offense, 1 year and $2000 for a second offense, and 4 years and $4000 for a subsequent offense.
Driving while impaired by a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), which is the subsection that is exclusively for illegal drugs used without a prescription, TA 21-902(d), is punishable by up to 1 year and $1000 for a first offense, 2 years and $2000 for a second offense, and 3 years and $3000 for a third or subsequent offense. If you are transporting a minor, the maximum penalties for each are increased by 1 year and $1000.
Do I need a lawyer if I am charged with driving while impaired by drugs or CDS?
These charges can have significant consequences and require quality legal representation. Driving while impaired charges may also prevent you from driving entirely or have other negative side effects which will require the assistance of a skilled lawyer to manage or avoid. Call (301) 556-8709, because you need to protect your license and your freedom.