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The differences between a DUI and DWI

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

In Maryland, as elsewhere, driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination of both substances is illegal. There are slight differences between a DUI and DWI, but both are forms of drunk driving under Maryland law.

What constitutes a DUI?

DUI stands for “driving under the influence.” This means that consuming alcohol negatively impacts a person’s ability to drive. Maryland Transportation law section 21-902 says that even attempting to drive while influenced by alcohol is unlawful.

The potential penalties for a first-time DUI offense are up to one year in jail and $2,000 in fines. The offender also faces a suspension of his or her driving license. The defendant has the right to fight the DUI charge.

What does DWI mean?

DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” A person is presumed intoxicated if his or her bodily alcohol content is .08 or higher at the time of driving. Even if there is no sign of poor driving or evidence that the alcohol influenced the person’s driving skills, he or she may still be guilty of DWI based on his or her alcohol content alone. The state typically measures the driver’s alcohol level with breath or blood testing.

Are DUI and DWI in Maryland different?

DUI and DWI are both drunk driving offenses in Maryland. Both may result in jail time, fines and other penalties. However, DUI and DWI slightly differ when it comes to what the state must prove to show that the person violated the law. Convicting someone of a DUI requires evidence of poor driving while DWI does not.

A driver may face an allegation of either DUI or DWI. It’s possible that the state may charge the case in the alternative and allege both types of drunk driving. Carefully reviewing the charges can help the defendant identify the exact allegations against him or her and help the person prepare the most appropriate defense.