DUI and DWI what are the differences in Maryland

What is the difference between a ticket for DUI and DWI and why do I have so many different DUI tickets for one arrest?

At the outset DUI stands for driving under the influence of either alcohol, drugs or some other impairing substance- also to include marijuana as Maryland moves closer to legalizing that substance. A conviction for DUI results in 12 points on your Maryland driver’s license or if you do not possess a Maryland driver’s license the conviction will be reported back to whatever state you hail from. In addition to the 12 points a conviction for DUI results in, there is up to one year in jail and $1000 fine. Although in my 20+ years of experience I have not seen a first offender go to jail for one year on a DUI charge.

Conversely a DWI stands for driving while impaired. This is defined as your “normal coordination” being impaired to any degree. It’s kind of funny listening to judges trie to determine what a person’s normal level of coordination would be when the defendant has difficulty with the silly roadside exercises known as the field sobriety tests. It is unlikely that the great majority of these judges could walk nine steps heal to toe on the side of the street at one in the morning and make a proper turn and walk back while balancing with their hands at their sides; but when a 60-year-old defendant has difficulty doing the same thing the court has no problem inferring that that individual has impaired coordination. While the system is fairly silly this appears to be the best that we have at this moment in time. I suppose as technology advances the time will come when they have a device that will quickly register the level of substance in a person’s body without asking them to do the ridiculous field sobriety tests, but for now a substantial amount of weight is placed on these tests.

A conviction for a DWI (driving while impaired) will result in eight points on your Maryland driver’s license; again if a person is not a Maryland licensed driver that conviction will be reported back to their own state whereupon they will suffer similar consequences in their own state that they would have suffered here in Maryland. The driving while impaired conviction is a less serious ticket then the driving under the influence conviction. They are both alcohol-related offenses for sure but one results in eight points while the other results in 12 points. One of the substantial differences is that driving while impaired conviction only carries 60 days in jail while the latter carries one year.

As stated above however I have never seen a first offense even result in 60 days, most second offenses do not result in 60 days in jail unless you have the unfortunate luck of being arrested in Harford County Maryland which is a most unpleasant place to be if you are faced with a criminal charge. Barring Harford County Maryland most of the other counties such as Baltimore County, Baltimore City, Anne Arundel County, Howard County, Carroll County and Anne Arundel county to name a few, tend to be more reasonable in their sentencing guidelines when it comes to an alcohol-related offense.

There are a variety of tickets that a defendant can get when charged with DUI or an alcohol-related offense. There is 2-902A(1) and 21-902A(2). The reason folks are charged with these two offenses has to do with the number that they blow in the machine and how the prosecution must prove the offense. Under the A1 offence that is the general driving under the influence while the A2 offense is grounded more in the BAC number that was blown into the machine. So if a person blows a .08 or higher the government is able to prove they were driving under the influence solely on the number that they provided without having to prove any other extraneous indications of impairment. It essentially makes their job easier to prove once they have a number.

In other words all the various charges/tickets that a person receives in an alcohol-related case have to do with the degree of the impairment; DUI counsel can explain all these different tickets to you at your initial meeting.

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