The Difference Between DUI and DWI in Maryland

The Difference Between DUI and DWI in MarylandSome people in Maryland mistakenly believe that DUI and DWI are the same things. However, they are two completely different infractions, and there are key differences between DUI and DWI in Maryland.


DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. A DUI occurs when a driver is found to have operated a motor vehicle with a breath alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or higher. This is Maryland’s legal limit, and it is presumed that a driver is intoxicated and unable to safely drive when his or her BrAC is over this threshold. This is called DUI per se. You can also be charged with a DUI if you show substantial impairment. It is important to note that intoxication is not limited to alcohol. Maryland laws include drugs in the definition of intoxication. You can also be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, even prescription drugs.


Convictions for DUI carry the harshest penalties. For first-time DUI offenders, the maximum possible penalty is one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Drivers convicted of their second DUI can expect up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Third-time offenders can expect possible jail time of up to three years and a fine of up to $3,000.

In addition to criminal penalties, there are also administrative consequences to a DUI conviction. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administrative (MVA) may slap a DUI offender with a 12-point penalty, which can be enough to cause the revocation of a driver’s license for six months for a first offense. You can also be required to participate in the Ignition Interlock Program.


DWI refers to a charge of Driving While Impaired. This charge is less severe than a DUI and occurs when a driver’s BrAC is found to be between .06% and .08%. Drivers charged with a DWI “pass” the breath test but exhibit other indications of impairment. This could include failing a field sobriety test. This level of impairment can be dangerous, which is why Maryland law calls for criminal and administrative penalties for DWI convictions.


A conviction for the lesser offense of DWI can result in up to a $500 fine or a possible 60 days in jail for a first time offender. Subsequent offenses could lead to up to a year in jail or another $500 fine. There are also administrative consequences for a DWI offense. The MVA may hand a DWI driver with an 8-point penalty, which could lead to a license suspension.


The consequences for DUI and DWI conviction are serious and can have a lasting impact on your life. If you’ve been arrested for a DUI/DWI, you want to make sure you have an experienced lawyer on your side who will work for the best possible outcome in your case. Contact the lawyers at Alpert Schreyer, LLC or call us at 301-321-7277 for a free consultation.

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