What is a DUI REALLY?

There is definitely a lack of knowledge and understanding when it comes to those laws that pertain to drinking and driving in this country. On the one hand, we have the vilification of those who are arrested for drinking and driving, while on the other hand, we have a lack of understanding of the actual terms DUI and DWI actually mean. After all, many of those who end of up convicted of DUI don’t understand how they ended up in court for this; they felt fine and in control at the time of their arrest, so what’s the problem? It’s important to understand, first, that mistakes happen; people sometimes exercise poor judgment, and this does not make them monsters, only human. It also important to understand, however, that regardless of how you “feel,”, once you reach a certain blood alcohol content level, you are breaking the law by operating your vehicle while intoxicated and/or under the influence of alcohol, and can be arrested for it.

Differences and Similarities

You probably already know that DUI stands for driving under the influence, but did you know that there is a lesser but related charge: DWI? DWI stands for Drinking While Intoxicated, and in most states carries with it less jail time, smaller fines, and is more forgiving as a second offense. The blood alcohol content level for DWI is .07% in the state of Maryland for anyone 21 years of age or older, whereas the BAC level for DUI is .08% and above; consequently, being convicted of DUI can carry with it a considerably stiffer penalty than DWI.

A DWI conviction typically carries with it a fine of $500, as well as a shorter span of time in prison, whereas a DUI charge can lead to $1000 or even $2000 in fines and a year or more in jail if you are found guilty. This is, of course, can be pretty devastating, and the circumstances of your arrest largely contributes to whether or not you actually serve time in jail for the offense, as well as what percentage of any fine you may be required to pay. For example, if a minor was in the car at the time of your arrest, you may be facing very stiff penalties indeed, and jail time is not unheard of. Maryland does not take endangering children lightly.

Making the Effort

An often undiscussed or brushed-aside element of the criminal justice system is the attempts it makes at rehabilitation. In the case of someone convicted of DUI, they don’t just face fines: they are also compelled to complete educational courses wherein they learn about safe driving conduct. Reacquiring their license (often, one’s license is suspended on being convicted of DUI) is often contingent on the completion of such a program. Substance abuse programs are also common requirements of the court. In the end, it is possible to put it all behind you, if you make the effort to do so.

About Andrew Alpert

+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law, has numerous videos on the subject and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.