In the state of Maryland, driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are different infractions which are often charged together and can result in different punishments. It is important that your defense attorney understands the nuances of the statues which address drunk and drugged driving to ensure your best possible result.
What is a DWI?
DWI refers to a driving while impaired charge. In Maryland, DWIs are less serious offenses than DUIs and exist when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is below 0.08 percent.
Drivers charged with DWI often pass a breath test with results just below the legal limit, but demonstrate other indications of impairment such as failing a field sobriety test or driving erratically.
Even if you are below the Maryland legal limit of 0.08 BAC, if an officer believes that you are impaired by alcohol, you can still be charged!
What is the Penalty for DWI in Maryland?
The lesser drunk driving offense in Maryland is a DWI (driving while impaired). These drivers face a possible 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first time offense. Repeated offenses could result in a year in jail or additional $500 fines. A DWI conviction will result in an eight-point penalty on the driver’s record – enough to lead to a driver’s license suspension.
What is a DUI?
Driving under the influence (DUI) exists when a driver is found to have operated a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. This level – 0.08 percent – is the state’s legal limit for alcohol. Any BAC equal to or greater than this limit amounts to a serious alcohol offense and can be punished with jail time, large fines, and a revoked driver’s license. For first time DUI offenders, the maximum possible penalty is one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Those who have received two DUIs can expect up to two years in jail and a $2,000 fine, while third time offenders can expect a possible three years behind bars and a $3,000 fine.
MVA License Consequences and the Interlock
In addition to criminal penalties, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) slaps DUI offenders with a harsh 12-point penalty. This is enough to cause revocation of the driver’s license for a certain period of time.
After being charged with a drunk driving offense, your license will be suspended by the MVA even if you are found “not guilty” at trial. Our attorneys will help you navigate the MVA process to possibly avoid suspension or qualify for an interlock device which will allow you to continue driving. For a first offense in Maryland, the following interlock options are available instead of a lengthy license suspension:
Intoxication Level (BAC) Interlock Period
- 0.08 – 0.14 180 days
- 0.15+ 1 year
- Test Refusal 1 year
If you would like to speak with a member of the firm, or have any question about our practice, please contact our offices to arrange a consultation. Call 301-627-5500.