Maryland's DUI and DWI Per Se Laws
What is a drunk driving per se violation in Maryland? As it turns out there are a couple of ways you can be charged and convicted of drunk driving in Maryland. Evidently the government found it too taxing to prove DUI through the standard impaired channels so they drafted a new violation and called it "per se". In the old days, cops used to prove DUI charges by showing that the driver was impaired, this was done through field sobriety tests and by watching the defendant's driving behavior and other post arrest indicators such as talking and walking etc.
Maryland (with the help of the Federal government) and the other states in the union decided that since DUI was such a heinous crime they needed a faster and more comprehensive way to obtain a DUI conviction. Hence was born the per se charge. The per se charge for DUI means that you are "per se" guilty of DUI or DWI because your breath alcohol limit reached a certain arbitrary number set by the government. Once you register that certain arbitrary number in a breath test you are considered "per se" guilty of the crime of DUI. At the present time that arbitrary number happens to be .08. However one must be careful because that arbitrary number seems to change every few years, before DUI came to the public's attention the BAC number used to be .15. Then as drunk driving gleaned more public attention the BAC number was lowered to .10. a few years later the drunk driving lobbyist determined that .10 was no longer adequate and the number was set at .08 at the Federal level. Naturally, the Federal government has control over the 50 states because if the states failed to deploy the BAC number that that the federal government desires federal funding will be cut to state, therefore the states will generally do what the Federal government desires.
A push was recently made in the Federal government to reduce the BAC number down to .05. This last effort failed to pass; however, you can be sure that the fight is not over and that the bill will reappear in Congress. One day the BAC limit will in fact be reduced to .05. I believe that one day everybody will actually get smart on this issue and reduce the BAC number where it should be for clarity which is .00. At least all drivers would know where they stood before getting into a car. At the present time it is extraordinarily unclear because while the legal limit may be .08, there are still legal ramifications for a .07 which is still known as driving while impaired or DWI. Additionally, the police and the state can attempt to obtain a conviction for even lower numbers which often times catches clients and defendants off guard not knowing that they have violated any law.
At least if the legal limit were .00 all drivers would be able to make an intelligent and informed decision regarding the consumption of alcohol and the operation of a motor vehicle every time before they got behind the wheel of a car. At present it is confusing to a driver how many drinks are actually permitted before driving. Can a driver have two beers or three beers before they are in trouble? The truth of the matter is at present up to the police officer to make that decision on the street. A nice officer may let you go at a .04 which is the equivalent of two beers while a different police officer may happily arrest a .04 and prosecute all charges, therefore it remains quite confusing for the motoring public to know what is permitted.
In the final analysis however a per se charge at the present time begins at a .08 or higher. If your breath sample provides a number in that area you are per se guilty of the violation with very little other evidence needed against you other than a lawful stop And a proper advisement of your technical rights (which does not include your Miranda rights). That is what per se means.