DUI vs DWI: Understanding the Difference in Maryland
In Maryland, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI) may seem similar but are distinct offenses. If faced with a charge related to drinking and driving, it's likely you've encountered both terms. Let's delve into the nuances of these laws.
Who Initiates DUI/DWI Charges?
DUI and DWI offenses in Maryland are categorized as criminal traffic offenses. They're prosecuted at the state level, specifically by the county where the alleged offense took place.
Agencies like the Maryland State Police, local Sheriff's departments, and the Maryland Transit Authority police all play roles in identifying and charging suspected drunk drivers, working towards the prevention of DUIs and DWIs in the state.
The process often starts with a vehicle stop, followed by field sobriety testing. If indicators of impairment are observed, officers might request a chemical breath test. A refusal can lead to added licensing penalties, though it might also aid a defense strategy under certain Maryland DUI laws.
Understanding Maryland's DUI and DWI laws can be complex. Let's break them down.
The Basics of a DWI
In Maryland, a DWI is seen as a lesser offense compared to a DUI. However, the requirements are similar:
Driving or attempting to drive: This implies that even the intent to drive while impaired can lead to a charge.
Impairment due to alcohol: This doesn't just mean consumption but an actual impact on motor skills.
It's worth noting that evidence of alcohol consumption alone doesn't ensure guilt. Impaired motor coordination must be demonstrably present.
Legal Alcohol Limits in Maryland
A DUI per se is charged when a breath test reveals a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over .08. If the BAC is between .07 and .08, the presumption leans towards a DWI. But remember, defenses can challenge this presumption during a DWI trial.
Penalties for DWI Convictions
The severity of penalties escalates with repeat offenses. They range from a 60-day sentence and a $500 fine for a first offense to potential jail terms of up to ten years for subsequent convictions.
What Constitutes a DUI?
For a DUI charge:
Driving or attempting to drive: Again, even an intent matters.
Under the influence: The alcohol should have a substantial impact on normal motor coordination.
Penalties for DUI Convictions
Penalties range from a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for a first-time offender to ten-year sentences for repeat offenders.
DUI vs DWI: The Core Difference
The central difference lies in the degree of impairment. Often, DWI charges can be negotiated to lesser pleas when there's no breath test.
If You're Charged: Next Steps
If you're facing DUI or DWI charges, it's crucial to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer. Every case is distinct, and a seasoned attorney can guide you through defenses, potential outcomes, and trial preparations.
Potential defenses can include:
- Improper administration of field sobriety tests
- Challenging an Officer's "opinions"
- Faulty accident reconstruction
- Actual physical control of your vehicle
- Breath testing issues
- Illegal vehicle stops
Our Expertise in DUI/DWI Cases
Max Frizalone, and Luke Woods, are experienced defenders in DUI cases. From a first-time DUI, to a second dui in md, to more severe allegations, they've defended cases across Maryland, gaining respect and admiration from peers.
Luke Woods has over two decades in criminal defense. Formerly with the Army Judge Advocate General's Corps and as a District Public Defender, Luke has a successful track record in DUI cases and anticipates defense strategies with precision. Max Frizalone is a respected DUI specialist in Maryland, with vast experience in achieving acquittals. Trained by top litigators like Roy Black, he's known for identifying strong legal defenses.
Licensing Penalties for DUI and DWI
Both DUIs and DWIs can lead to serious licensing repercussions, including potential suspensions. Here's a breakdown:
Why Trust FrizWoods?
With proven expertise in DUI and DWI cases across Maryland, our firm is prepared to handle any case, whether in Annapolis or Calvert County. Max and Luke bring the essential skills and experience to the table.