When you’re first arrested for DUI – or “driving under the influence” of alcohol – it can seem like your entire life has been ruined. We only hear of true villains being arrested for DUI, people whom society reviles and finds absolutely despicable – and now you’re numbered among them! Except that the truth of the matter is that for the most part, driving under the influence is a mistake – a dangerous mistake, perhaps, but a mistake nonetheless. Nobody wants to endanger others or themselves, but sometimes we use poor judgment and find ourselves being arrested for it.
A DUI in Maryland
What happens next often depends on what state (of the Union) you are in. While most states have very similar laws regarding DUI and DWI (driving while intoxicated), there is some variation in the threshold for what qualifies as DUI. In Maryland, if you are 21 years of age or older, you can be charged as DWI if your BAC is .07%, and you can be charged as DUI if your BAC is .08% or higher. Being convicted of a DUI is obviously worse than DWI, and the offense can add 12 points automatically onto your license. In Maryland, this means that your license can be automatically revoked, making it illegal for you to drive.
This is the kind of thing that can really make you think that your life is over, and you would definitely be facing jail time – if it weren’t for the fact that it is your first DUI and your record is otherwise quite clear (right?). Most drivers are made to pay a fine of around $1000 for their first offense, as well as attend classes on driving and road safety, as well as substance abuse issues. Of course, to avoid jail time, you should hire legal representation; this will inevitably cost you quite a bit more than the fines you will pay, but it’s worth it to stay out of jail.
The Lesser of Two Evils
Being charged with DWI carries with it considerably less in the way of penalties, which makes sense, since your BAC is also less in order to qualify for DWI as opposed to DUI. Generally speaking, many who end up being charged with DWI were on the lower end of the BAC spectrum but did very poorly on the field sobriety test that the arresting officer administered. This comes down to officer judgment, and a conviction generally leads to 8 points on your license, potential license suspension and a fine of $500.
It could be far worse, but the important thing is that you hire a lawyer, stay out of jail, pay your dues, and follow the rules.