Today, the Maryland Senate passed a bill that would hold drunk drivers liable for punitive damages if they have a previous DUI conviction in the last 10 years and caused the victim’s death or injury while driving with a BAC at or above 0.15. As expected, state legislators are moving closer towards strengthening DUI laws in Maryland. This bill now faces a vote in the House of Delegates.
For those who do not know, punitive damages are rarely awarded in Maryland, and will only be awarded when the defendant acted with “evil motive, intent to injure or ill will.” When a person chooses to drink and drive, they clearly have an intent to injure either themselves, someone else, or both. This is certainly a step in the right direction of trying to reduce the number of drunk driving related injuries and deaths. If this bill survives the House and becomes law, not only will drunk drivers face criminal penalties and paying civil damages for injuries sustained by the victim, but they could also face punitive damages, which are damages meant to make the victim or their family whole again and to deter the defendant from doing this again. As the bill’s chief sponsor stated, punitive damages are meant to “send a statement by Maryland that we do not accept this kind of conduct, that it is intentional conduct.”
This is just one example of possible changes coming to Maryland drunk driving laws in the future. There has yet to be any proposed legislation that would require an ignition interlock device for all first time DUI offenders. Many proponents for strengthening the state’s DUI legislation believe that interlock devices must be required for all DUI offenders. Statistics have shown that if Maryland had this law in place, many innocent lives would have been saved.
If you or a family member has been charged with DUI or DWI in Maryland and would like a free legal consultation or if you would like more information on DUI or DWI please feel free to contact our office at (301) 854-9000 and schedule an appointment at our office in Laurel or throughout Maryland, or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/DWI-DUI/