Maryland Alcohol Laws – How to Avoid Getting Charged for Having a Good Time

When you think of an alcohol crime, what comes to mind? DUIs? DWIs? Those are definitely the most common. Others, though, carry serious consequences similar to DUIs and DWIs, and it is important to know what you could face if you find yourself charged with an alcohol-related crime.

Read on to learn more about:

  • Open Container Laws in Maryland and navigating a misdemeanor;
  • Intoxication in a public setting and when it goes too far; and
  • Rules for Distributing Alcohol and possible legal pitfalls.

Open Container Laws: An Easy Misdemeanor

If you want to avoid a DUI, don’t drink and drive. What is the harm in your passengers enjoying an open beer?

It could be more severe than you think. Maryland Open Container Laws are strict, and if you are caught with a cracked can, you may face misdemeanor charges. 

Chances are, law enforcement will not care if you are having fun with friends; they will look at the open container and hand you a ticket. The fine for an open container is relatively low: $25 maximum, with $5 in court costs. However, if you have past DUI experience or are under the influence, seeing an open container might give a police officer reason to inquire further about your state.

In many ways, open container fines might lead to more significant problems or higher fines. Watch out for containers with:

  • Open caps;
  • Broken seals; or
  • Has lost contents.

Also, keep in mind that your trunk and glove compartments are not passenger areas. Therefore, anything held in there is not considered “open container” under Maryland law.

No need to worry if you are a bus, town car, or limousine driver, either; passengers can lawfully drink if you’re driving. The same applies to motor homes, too, considering they have living quarters.

In any other case, though, be aware, or you might find yourself receiving charges related to…

Intoxication: A Serious Charge When Public

Like Open Container laws, public intoxication may lead to other alcohol-related charges depending on the circumstance.

Unlike open container cases, though, public intoxication involves your own use of alcohol, rather than a passenger’s or friend’s.

For the most part, it is a self-explanatory crime: drinking alcoholic beverages or intoxication in public and either posing a threat to the safety of a person or property or causing a disturbance.

Public intoxication is far more serious than open containers, though. A misdemeanor charge could land you with up to 90 days in jail or $100 in fines. There are rehabilitative options available for those who are open to them; however, you should take the charges seriously regardless.

As mentioned earlier, you might face charges that may stack on top of each other depending on the circumstances. For example, if you are drunk in public, cause a scene, then hurt someone, you might face disorderly conduct and assault on top of public intoxication.

A criminal defense attorney can help you fight these charges, especially public intoxication. If you are arrested, call your attorney before talking to the police. They can help mount an aggressive defense to a small crime that might bring you more troubles than necessary.

The burden is on the state to prove intoxication; in public cases, this is based on the issuance of citations and the reasons why a police officer charged you. They might not have even used a breathalyzer. These are the aspect of the case your attorney will address in full in your defense.

If You are the Supplier or the Supplied: Red Zones to Avoid

You might have a bottle in your hand, but you intend on handing it off to someone else. It is common to pass around alcohol at parties or social gatherings; for everyone’s safety, though, you should know who’s on the other side of the bottle. You could face charges if that person’s a minor, regardless of whether it is in your own house.

At the same time, if you are younger, you need to know there are penalties for buying alcohol underage—whether someone sells it to you willingly or you use a fake I.D.

A specific case to Maryland is Alex and Calvin’s Law, which passed in 2016. Under it, penalties for those who supply minors with alcohol increase in the event the minor operates a motor vehicle, resulting in a serious accident. If you are charged under Alex and Calvin’s Law, you could be facing up to $5,000 in prison, up to a year in prison, or both. 


On the other hand, if you are a minor in possession of alcohol, there are consequences if you are caught:


 

If you are a minor younger than 18…

 

·         Your case will proceed to juvenile court, and you will enter the disposition process. From there, a judge will make a determination based on your situation.

 

If you are between the ages of 18 and 21…

 

·         On a first offense, you may be fined up to $500, but could see up to $1,000 on subsequent offenses.   

 

This does not mention the separate misdemeanor crime of not producing an I.D. If stopped by an officer—an additional $50 fine. 

Now, don’t worry if you’re a parent. You can legally let your child consume alcohol as long as it’s on private property without incurring any issues. The same can be said with religious practices involving consuming alcohol or a job involving the handling of alcohol—a religious leader or supervisor won’t see charges for either situation. 

If you do find yourself facing charges relating to abuse of alcohol, contact our offices for a free initial consultation. There are many ways our effective and diligent lawyers can spot the weak points in a case and negotiate a deal with your best interests in mind. 

Prioritize your future—call us to take a foot in the right direction.