Drunk Driving Maryland –Common Myth DUI is a Moving Violation

Drunk driving laws in Maryland are no joke. In fact, while many regard a DUI or DWI as a moving violation or a traffic violation, the truth is they are criminal offenses punishable by fines, loss of license and even jail time. People accused of driving under the influence are sometimes unaware that having a Maryland lawyer represent them is vital to staying out of jail and keeping their driver’s license intact. While we’re constantly bombarded with TV adds describing the dangers of driving under the influence, drivers don’t know the basic facts about this serious criminal offense.  One of the more common questions asked by drivers is, “What’s the difference between a DUI vs. DWI?

 What’s the difference between a DUI vs. DWI?

In regard to Maryland DUI law, determining the type of charge depends on the levels of alcohol in your system at the time of testing. The arresting officer’s judgment on the level of driver impairment is another factor. Performance on Field Sobriety Tests is a third. According to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration, DUI vs. DWI is determined by the following guidelines:

  •  Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is operating a motor vehicle while impaired to the point where it is unsafe to drive and/or you register a blood alcohol concentration between .04 and .08.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) Per Se is driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) is being under the influence of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle without a breath test.

These numbers may seem high, but there are a variety of biological factors that impact the level of alcohol in your bloodstream. This includes height, weight, age and gender. Another factor is how much time has passed from your last drink – to when you were arrested – to when you submitted to the breath test.

DUI/DWI Penalties

While the DUI and DWI differences are determined by blood alcohol level, the penalties you’ll face when  include:

DUI, TA 21-902(a) 1 & 2 or (d)

  • $1000 fine (or more with prior convictions)
  • Possible suspension of driving privileges for up to 12 months (or longer)
  • Jail time that could last up to one year (or more with prior convictions)

DWI, TA 21-902(b) or (c)

  • $500 fine (or more with prior convictions)
  • Possible suspension of driving privileges for up to 12 months (or longer)
  • Jail time that could last up to 60 days (or 1 year with prior convictions)

As you can see, being charged with a DUI in Maryland carries penalties and fines that have immediate and long lasting impact on your driving record, insurance premiums, reputation, and your employment opportunities.

As we’ve noted, drunk driving laws in Maryland are severe, so it’s a smart idea to hire a lawyer if you’re facing these charges. In addition to helping you navigate the court systems, a lawyer with knowledge of DUI laws can help reduce the charges against you, and in some cases have the charges dropped entirely.

MVA Administrative penalty

Another important fact to remember is that when you are arrested for DUI or DWI, your license is immediately confiscated, and can be suspend for up to four months or as long as a year. Being unable to drive could keep you from reporting to your job and result in termination. Even the most everyday tasks – picking up your children from school – might be severely impacted.

 What you should do

Drunk driving is dangerous to you and everyone else on the road. Even if you perceive that you’re sober, Maryland DUI laws are unforgiving. If you’re ever in doubt, call a taxi or have someone drive you. DUI or DWI charges should never be taken lightly, and hiring a competent lawyer is an excellent idea. The right legal counsel can work with the courts to possibly lessen the charges and arrange for lighter sentencing. Don’t let one mistake ruin the rest of your life.