A 28-year-old Anne Arundel County man has been charged with multiple criminal violations in addition to being issued four traffic citations for allegedly causing a head-on collision in Lothian earlier this week. The accident left three family members injured, including 15 and 9-year-old children. According to Anne Arundel County Police all three of the occupants were treated for life-threatening injuries, while the defendant was uninjured in the crash. Police investigation revealed that the defendant crossed the center line, which caused his Rav4 to strike a smaller Nissan Versa head on. Another vehicle then crashed into the Nissan from the rear as a result of the sudden collision. Police responded to the scene and began a criminal investigation after bystanders informed officers that the driver appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The driver then allegedly failed field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest for DUI. He then agreed to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test at the station in lieu of submitting to a mandatory blood draw. The result of the breath test was .18, which is more than twice the legal limit.
In a normal Maryland DUI or DWI case the defendant is usually charged via citation and released to a friend or family member a short time later. While police do have the authority to book a defendant into the jail for drunk driving, going to jail for a DUI charge in Maryland is rare outside of Baltimore City. This case was far from normal due to the severity of the victim’s injuries, and the overall egregious nature of the defendant’s alleged actions. Most people are aware that causing a death in a traffic accident or boat accident while under the influence can result in criminal charges for homicide by vehicle or vessel or manslaughter. But the legislature also chose to criminalize causing a serious injury accident while under the influence. Based on the totality of the circumstances, the defendant was booked and charged with this fairly new criminal violation under §3-211 of the Maryland Criminal Code. This law makes it a criminal violation to cause life threatening injuries by a motor vehicle or vessel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A first offense for this violation carries up to 3 years in prison for DUI and up to 2 years for DWI. If a defendant has a prior conviction for impaired driving in Maryland or any other state, the maximum penalty would become 5 years in prison. The defendant in this case was charged with 3 counts, though he can only be lawfully sentenced on one of the counts. He was held without bail by the court commissioner and by a District Court judge the next day at bail review. He is now being held at the Jennifer Road detention center awaiting his trial in March of next year.
Almost all drivers who are charged with drunk driving in Maryland are issued multiple citations, which can be confusing and stressful for someone with no experience dealing with this situation. In reality, the officers are taught to issue multiple citations, typically for DUI, DWI and DUI pe se (if the defendant tested over the limit), because they do not know which of the counts the State’s Attorney will be able to prove at trial. Regardless of the number of citations a driver receives in a drunk driving arrest, most will eventually be dismissed by the State at trial or pursuant to a plea. If a plea agreement is reached, the defendant typically admits to one of the citations and maybe two if the driving pattern is especially alarming to the State.