The state of Maryland is much different from other states when it comes to driving while under the influence. The state has two sets of laws, one for Driving while Intoxicated or “DWI” and another for “DUI”, “Driving under the Influence.” The difference between the two comes down to blood alcohol content level (BAC). You will be charged with a DUI if your BAC is between .04 and .08. You will be charged with a DWI if your BAC is 0.08 or higher.
Maryland’s .08 Law
If your level of alcohol registers at a concentration of .08 or more, you are legally considered intoxicated and Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) can impose these penalties:
- A 45-day license suspension for the first offense
- A 90-day suspension for a subsequent offense
- Total loss of driving privileges
According to the MVA, penalties are even greater if the offense occurred while the driver is transporting someone under 18. If transporting a minor, the driver may face a fine of up to $4,000 and a prison sentence of up to four years.
Maryland law requires that all motor vehicles registered in the state of Maryland be insured by a company licensed in Maryland.
Minimum liability insurance requirement
Liability insurance protects policyholders when they have caused an accident. There are two types of liability coverage that are required by Maryland State law: bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage.
For all polices written or renewed after January 1, 2011, the minimum amount of liability coverage required by Maryland law is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $60,000 bodily injury per accident; and
- $15,000 property damage
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is now required in the State of Maryland. This coverage protects you if someone causes damage to your property or injures you or your passenger(s) when driving while uninsured or with an inadequate amount of insurance.
This coverage also applies in the case of hit-and-run, when an auto damages your vehicle or injures you and leaves the scene of the accident without being identified. This insurance covers repairs to your property, as well as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
For all policies written or renewed after January 1, 2011, the minimum amount of uninsured/underinsured coverage required by Maryland law is:
- $30,000 for bodily injury per person
- $60,000 bodily injury per accident
- $15,000 property damage.
Who is liable
The state of Maryland follows a tort liability system, meaning the driver who causes a car accident is responsible for paying for the costs of any injuries sustained by others, including medical costs, pain, suffering and loss of wages.
Minimum personal injury protection
Drivers in Maryland must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in place to pay for their medical bills and lost wages following an accident. It also pays for funeral expenses in the case of a fatal accident. Maryland law requires $2,500 minimum PIP. You may be able to waive PIP coverage for certain individuals resulting in a reduction in your premium.
Check your credit report
Under Maryland law, insurers can not use your credit history to decide if they will:
- Insure you
- Cancel you
- Renew you
- Increase your premium
However, insurers may use your credit history to determine the rate you will be paying for your auto insurance. When shopping for insurance, if your credit history is less than stellar, ask the insurance if they use credit history to determine rates, as not all insurers do. Insurers that do use credit are required to tell you at the time you apply for the insurance that they will consider your credit history. If you ask, an insurer must tell you how much of your premium is as a result of your credit score.
Protect yourself from insurance fraud
Once you have selected an insurer, contact the Maryland Insurance Administration to verify that the insurer is licensed to sell insurance in Maryland. It is illegal for unlicensed insurers to sell insurance. If you choose to use a producer, also verify that the producer is licensed.
Average Annual Cost of Insurance
The 2011 average annual auto insurance premium for Maryland is $1,807, significantly higher than the national average of $1,561.
Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
Maryland DOT Motor Vehicle Administration www.mva.maryland.gov
Maryland Insurance Administration