Summer may be over, but it is important that you have fun and enjoy yourself while the weather is still nice. However, it is more important to be mindful of how much alcohol you have consumed before getting behind the wheel. Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) are serious charges, and can result in severe punishment.
Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are major offenses in the state of Maryland. Making the decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol is a decision that can result in life-altering events such as accidents, injuries, and arrests. It is important to be informed and aware of the DUI and DWI limits and laws in Maryland, as one wrong decision could alter your life.
What is a DUI
In Maryland, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.08% or higher. This means that if you are pulled over after drinking, and the police officer discovers your BAC to be above this percentage, you can be charged with a DUI. Maryland state laws specify that an individual automatically gives consent to a chemical test for alcohol screening when they decide to drive a vehicle. Refusing to take a breathalyzer or chemical test can result in license suspensions ranging from 120 days to 1 year.
Being charged with a DUI in Maryland is the more serious of the two offenses. Sentencing and repercussions for the crime vary depending on each case: but generally DUI first offenders may find themselves facing license revocation, fines, and possible imprisonment.
What is a DWI
A driver can be charged with a DWI if their BAC is 0.07% or higher. Generally, when a police officer finds that a driver’s BAC is lower than the legal limit, but that the driver is clearly impaired and/or has failed field sobriety tests, they will charge the driver with a DWI.
Driving while intoxicated is still a very serious offense, and can also result in fines, suspension, and imprisonment. Additionally, penalties for the offense will increase greatly if a driver is found to have a passenger in the vehicle under the age of 18.
Courts can mandate a number of different punishments for DUI and DWI offenses. The severity of such depends on factors such as if this was the driver’s first offense—or if they have had multiple—and the degree to which the driver had been intoxicated. Typically, courts will require the offender to pay fines ranging from $500 to $2000 dollars, in addition to other punishments.
First-offense DUI and DWI charges can lead to jail time up to 6 months depending on the nature of the offense. A second offense DUI has a mandatory sentence of a minimum of 5 days imprisonment and a maximum of 2 years. If a DUI or DWI resulted in the injury or death of another, a driver may be charged with a felony, in which imprisonment becomes a more likely sentence.
Further, being charged and found guilty of a DUI or DWI can lead to license suspensions and having points added to a driver’s record. A first offense DUI can lead to a revocation up to 6 months, while a first offense DWI can result in a license revocation for a maximum of 60 days. If a driver’s license is suspended or revoked as a result of one of these charges, they will be required by the state to attend an alcohol education course before getting their license back.
In Maryland, anyone who is convicted of driving while impaired is required to have an Ignition Interlock Device installed in their vehicle. The driver is responsible for installation fees, in addition to the monthly maintenance fee.
Bottom Line on DUI vs DWI
Do not drink and drive. Having a plan in place to avoid getting behind the wheel while impaired is always the best defense. However, if you do find yourself in a situation where you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, it is best to be fully informed about the potential consequences and have experienced legal counsel on your side. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Eldridge and Nachtman for more information on DUI and DWI law, and a review of your case.
For more information on what to do if you are pulled over for a DUI or DWI, read 5 Tips for When You are Pulled Over for a DUI