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Difference between DUI and DWI in Maryland

DUI and DWI are frequently charged together.  DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is the more serious charge.  DWI, which stands for Driving While Impaired, is the less serious of the two. Although prosecutors in Maryland can charge both DUI and DWI, a defendant can be convicted of only one of the charges. 


DUI in Maryland

DUI carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for a first offense.  When a driver is stopped with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at or above .08% the driver will almost always be charged with DUI per se.  At this BAC level the law presumes the driver to be affected by alcohol.  

The way the police measure a suspected DUI driver’s BAC is by use of what is commonly known as a “Breathalyzer.”  The police may have two types of breathalyzers:  one is a small device known as a Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) and the other is the breathalyzer at the station. 

A driver who registers a .08% on the breathalyzer at the police station, can be charged with and convicted of DUI without the state having to prove that he was actually affected by the alcohol in his blood (The PBT tends to be less reliable than the machine at the station).

DWI in Maryland

DWI, the lesser drunk driving related charge, carries a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense.  DWI is charged when a driver is stopped with a BAC from .07% up to .079%. In order to be convicted of DWI, the prosecution must prove that there was alcohol in the driver’s blood and it was impairing his coordination while driving.  This is a lower standard for the prosecution to prove than DUI.  Often when there is a person on the lower part of the BAC spectrum, the prosecution is able to prove their case when a driver did poorly on the Field Sobriety Tests.

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