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DUI and DWI: 2 different charges in Maryland

Almost nothing is worse than seeing those flashing lights behind your car after you have had a little to drink. If you have been pulled over by a police officer who is saying that you appear to be under the influence of alcohol, it is vitally important that you understand what will happen.

First, you should know that if you are charged with a drunk driving offense in Maryland, you will have to turn your driver's license over to the police officer. When or if you get it back depends on your charges and if you are convicted or not.

Next, you should understand what implied consent is in Maryland. When you get your driver's license, you agree that you can be tested for intoxication if a law enforcement officer suspects that you are intoxicated. This means that you can choose to take a Breathalyzer, a field sobriety test or refuse either of those. If you refuse to take a field sobriety test or a Breathalyzer, your driver's license will be suspended right then.

If you opt to take a Breathalyzer test, your blood-alcohol concentration will be determined. In Maryland, if your BAC is .08 percent or above, you will be charged with a driving under the influence charge. A DUI is the most serious drunk driving offense. It can cost you $1,000 for a first-time fine or more for subsequent convictions. Additionally, your driver's license will be revoked and you can face other consequences.

If your BAC is lower, you might be charged with a driving while intoxicated or DWI. This is the lesser drunk driving charge, but it still has serious consequences. You can face a $500 fine plus other consequences.

It is important that you understand the charges against you, as well as how a conviction might affect your life. In most cases, presenting the strongest defense possible against drunk driving charges is the best way to minimize the impact the charges can have on your life.

Source: DMV.org, "DUI & DWI in Maryland" Sep. 11, 2014

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