Maryland has two basic drunk driving charges: driving while impaired (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). If you’re a driver in this state who has been charged with drunk driving, it’s important to understand the difference between the two so you can better understand the potential penalties.
Driving While Impaired
A DWI is generally the lesser of the two charges. While still a serious charge, the penalties aren’t quite as severe as those for a DUI. You can be charged with a DUI even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) on a Breathalyzer is below the legal limit of .08, so long as there’s other evidence that you’re in some way impaired.
For example, evidence of an impairment might include:
- Weaving in and out of your lane
- Driving too slowly
- Sliding through stop signs
- Running a red light
- Slurred speech
- Erratic behavior
Getting into an accident could also lead to a DUI charge — especially if the responding officer decides that he or she thinks you’ve been drinking.
Penalties for a first offense include up to two months in jail and a $500 fine. A second offense can earn you up to a year in jail.
Driving Under the Influence
A DUI is usually charged when your BAC is 0.08 or above. In those circumstances, you are intoxicated “per se,” meaning that the Breathalyzer alone can be enough to convict you — even if you were not observably intoxicated.
Because it is a more severe charge, there’s a possibility of a year in jail and a $1000 fine. The penalties go higher for subsequent offenses or if you had minor children in your car at the time.
DWI and DUI charges can lead to all sorts of complications. The ricochet effect on your life can last for years. An experienced legal defense may be able to help.