Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI) often refer to the same criminal charges. However, in Maryland, a distinction exists between the two. Regardless, anyone convicted of a crime in Maryland could face potential penalties and a possible lifetime criminal record.
DUI vs. DWI
A DUI charge involves someone arrested for being legally intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. Someone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% would likely deal with DUI charges. A DWI charge involves driving while suffering from factors that undermine the normal operation of a vehicle. Anyone with a BAC between 0.07% and 0.08% BAC could expect DWI charges.
Maryland DUI/DWI statutes reveal the different sentencing guidelines between the two. The lesser DWI offense presents a first-time offender with a possible $500 fine and a maximum of two months in prison. Persons 21 and over would look at a six-month license suspension. Those under 21 may find the suspension could be one year. With a DUI, the fine could be $1,000, and the prison sentence could be a maximum of one year. A potential six-month license revocation may occur.
Repeat DUI and DWI offenses involve harsher sentencing guidelines. Repeat DUI offenders may need to attend a mandatory alcohol program.
Defending the charges
A careful review of the evidence and particulars surrounding the arrest may support a DUI/DWI defense. If the officer did not calibrate the breathalyzer correctly, a defendant could look at DUI charges instead of DWI. Sometimes, the breathalyzer and other tests are so faulty the court may reject the results. A defendant may ask for lighter sentencing. The court might not impose the harshest penalties depending on the evidence presented.
DWI and DUI charges are not the same. Persons accused of driving while intoxicated may benefit from knowing the differences.