In some states, “DWI” and “DUI” are used interchangeably – but Maryland is different.
Driving while impaired (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) have distinct legal meanings in this state. If you’ve been charged with one or the other, understanding more can help you better participate in your own defense.
DWI is the lesser charge
Driving while impaired is considered the less serious offense of the two. It’s used when a driver narrowly “passes” a breath alcohol content (BAC) test with a BAC of .07% or above but less than .08% while showing other signs of impairment, such as slurred speech, drowsiness or confusion. You may end up with this charge, for example, even from just failing a field sobriety test.
If convicted, you could lose your license for 60 days, be fined $500 and spend up to two months in jail.
DUI is the more serious offense
If you’re pulled over and you “fail” a BAC test by blowing a .08% or higher, you will likely be charged with driving under the influence. Underage drivers, too, can be charged with a DUI if they have a BAC of .02% or above, due to the state’s “zero tolerance” policy.
If you’re convicted of the charge, you could face up to a full year in jail, a $1,000 fine and lose your license for six months.
Drunk driving is a serious offense regardless of the exact nature of the charge. A conviction can have serious consequences for your future. That makes it essential to explore all your potential defenses.