People often assume that if they stay below 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC), they cannot be charged with drunk driving. However, as explained below, this is not true.
Maryland has two kinds of drunk driving charges: driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI). Understanding the difference will be crucial if the police charge you:
- Driving under the influence: If your test results show a BAC of 0.08% or more, you will automatically face a DUI charge.
- Driving while impaired: If your test results read between 0.07% and 0.08% BAC, the police can give you a DWI. They can also give it if you read less but are impaired by a mixture of drugs and alcohol. Under 21s would get a DWI for any amount of alcohol.
DUIs have more serious consequences if a court convicts you
A first DUI offense could result in a fine of up to $1,000, up to one year in jail, or both. A second DUI could result in a fine of up to $2,000, up to two years in jail, or both. In comparison, a first DWI offense could result in a fine of up to $500, up to two months in jail, or both. A second DWI could result in a fine of up to $500, up to one year in jail, or both.
A DUI also brings more license points – 12 compared to eight for a DWI.
What difference does it make if I am already facing charges?
Denying you did anything wrong is not always your best defense option. Sometimes, you need to look at reducing the charge.
If you face a DUI but were only just over the 0.08% BAC limit, you might look for ways to convince a court the breathalyzer reading was slightly off, and you should only face a DWI. If you can do that, you instantly reduce the penalties you could face.
Getting legal help to understand your best defense options will be crucial whether charged with a DUI or DWI.