In Maryland, if you are charged with an alcohol-relating driving offense, chances are you are charged with both DUI and DWI simultaneously. So what is the difference? DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is the more serious charge of the two while DWI, or Driving While Impaired is the less serious with lesser penalties. Although you can be charged with DUI and DWI together, you may only be convicted of one. Penalties for DUI and DWI can significantly be increased if there is a minor in the vehicle at the time of the stop, as well as drivers who have a commercial drivers license.
Maryland DUI and DWI Penalties
If someone was stopped with a Blood Alcohol Concentration equal to or greater than .08%, they will almost always be charged with DUI “per se.” This means that the law presumes the driver is affected by alcohol to the point his/her normal faculties are impaired. See the penalties below:
- 21-902(a)(1) DUI Max Penalty: 1 year jail $1,000 fine 12 points
- 21-902(a)(2) DUI Per Se Max Penalty: 1 year jail $1,000 fine 12 points
- 21-902(b)(1) DWI Max Penalty: 60 days jail $500 fine 8 points
If you are subsequently convicted of DUI or DWI, penalties can double! Often times, there will be related traffic citations such as failure to obey a traffic device, unsafe lane change, unlawful speed, failure to maintain lane, etc… Generally, you never want to pay an underlying traffic citation because you are essentially admitting guilt without exercising your constitutional right to a trial. Always talk to an attorney before taking any actions on your own.
DR-15A and the 10-Day Rule in Maryland MVA Hearings
In Maryland, MVA hearings and penalties are separate and distinct from the criminal case, which is heard in courts of law. Once someone is stopped for an alcohol-related driving offense and charged, the charging officer will confiscate the driver’s license and issue the driver a paper license that is valid for 45 days, known as the DR-15A. It is important to note that the officer can ONLY confiscate a Maryland issued drivers license. If you are charged with a DUI or DWI in Maryland, you have 10 days to request an MVA hearing. If you fail to do so, your driving privileges may be suspended from the 46th day after your DR-15A expires until the hearing date at the MVA. Therefore, it is very important that you hire an attorney right away or request the MVA hearing immediately after being charged with a DUI or DWI. Modifications to your privilege to drive can also be requested in limited circumstances.
Generally, the following reflect a list of possible and common outcomes in MVA hearings:
- First offense* BAC under 0.15 45 day suspension
- Second offense BAC under 0.15 90 day suspension
- First offense** BAC 0.15 or over 90 day suspension
- Second offense BAC 0.15 or over 120 day suspension
- First Refusal*** N/A 120 day suspension
- Second Refusal N/A 1 year suspension
*Eligible for a restricted license modification in certain circumstances. **Not eligible for modification—unless ignition interlock installed for 1 year. ***Not eligible for a modification—unless ignition interlock installed for 1 year
Shayan Modarres is a Maryland trial attorney experienced in criminal defense. He will help you fight charges of DUI, DWI, and other serious traffic violations in Maryland. If you or someone you care about has been charged with DUI or DWI, please call (407) 408-0494 to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer. Evening consultations are available.
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