What Is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Maryland? 

What is the difference between Maryland DUI and DWI? Find out here from a top-rated criminal defense lawyer.

Difference Between Maryland DUI and DWI


Most people in Maryland mistakenly believe that DWIs and DUIs are the same things under Maryland’s drunk driving laws. However, nothing could be further from the truth as the two terms refer to very different offenses that result in varying punishments.

If you have been charged with a DWI or DUI case and need legal advice, do not hesitate to contact the Maryland DUI lawyers at Scrofano Law. We have the necessary experience, skills, and understanding of the law to help you obtain a favorable resolution to your DUI charges.

What Is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Maryland?


A DWI usually refers to driving while impaired, and a person may be slapped with the charge if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is found to be between 0.07 and 0.08 percent.

If you are charged with a DWI, you will usually have to pass a breath test to determine if you are under the legal limit. It is important to note that most drivers’ blood alcohol concentration tests usually come under the legal limit, but they often have other indications of impairment, such as erratic driving and failing a field sobriety test.

According to the DWI laws, such impairment is deemed dangerous, and hence anyone found guilty may face license suspension in addition to possible sanctions. Contact a Silver Springs criminal attorney for more information.

On the other hand, a DUI refers to driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or greater. The legal limit for operating a vehicle in Maryland is 0.08 percent, and anything greater than this is a serious offense.

A driver may be slapped with driver’s license suspension or revocation, sizable fines, and even jail time upon DUI conviction.

If you have been arrested and face DUI or DWI charges in Maryland, it is critical to contact a DC DUI attorney as soon as possible. Given the severe consequences of DWI and DUI convictions, establishing an attorney-client relationship as soon as possible will improve your odds of getting better outcomes.

Difference Between DUI vs. DWI Conviction


When a person is arrested for a DWI or DUI or both DUI and DWI, they will be charged with a misdemeanor and have to go to court. 

However, if one is convicted of a DWI or DUI charge, they will face the prospect of jail time or have to pay a hefty fine. Fines could range from as low as $500 to a high of $5,000, while the jail sentence could be between two months up to five years. 

If one is found guilty of a DUI or DWI while transporting minors, jail terms could be much longer. It is also important to note that there are increased penalties for DUI and DWI for subsequent convictions. 


Which Is Worse: A DUI or DWI?

Driving under the influence is prohibited in the State of Maryland. If you break the law and a police officer stops you, you may be sentenced to jail or fined. 

Overall, the most severe offense in Maryland is driving while under the influence, also referred to as DUI. A DWI is deemed a lesser offense, and the penalties are usually not as severe as with a DUI.

If you have been arrested at a traffic stop by a police officer, contact the law offices of Scrofano Law immediately. We have experience working with courts across many jurisdictions in Maryland, and we may be able to provide legal representation and help you prepare for your hearing request, prepare for your court case, and navigate the subsequent court date.

How to Differentiate DWI from DUI under Maryland Law


A DUI charge is usually brought against a driver when the police officer believes the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is above the legal 0.08 legal limit for driving.

At a BAC of 0.08 or greater, law enforcement will deem the driver legally impaired and under the influence per se. This means the prosecution will not have to prove impairment in judgment since anything higher than 0.08 under Maryland law will result in the assumption that the driver is impaired.

On the other hand, law enforcement in Maryland could charge you with driving while impaired (DWI) when they are below the legal limit but are between a BAC of 0.06 to 0.07 percent.

For a DWI conviction, the prosecution will have to prove that you were impaired at the time of the traffic stop.


Differentiating Features of DUI and DWI

Under the State of Maryland’s drunk driving laws, police officers can stop or detain a driver who is attempting to drive or is driving while:

    • Under the influence of drugs
    • In violation of an alcohol restriction
    • Under the influence of alcohol
    • Intoxicated
    • Under the influence of a dangerous or controlled substance

    When they are tested, commercial license drivers operating a commercial vehicle can face a driving while impaired charge if they are found to have a blood alcohol content of between 0.04 and 0.07 percent.

    If the driver is driving their own vehicle at the test, they can be charged with a DWI if their BAC level is 0.07 or greater.

    Drivers charged with first offense DWI may be slapped with criminal penalties that may include:

    • A fine of $500
    • Commercial driver’s license suspension of up to 12 months, or
    • A jail sentence of up to two months
    • 12 points on their driving record

    A first-offense DUI usually attracts criminal penalties that may include:

    • Fines of up to $1,000
    • Suspension of driving license for up to a year; or
    • A jail sentence of up to one year.


    Refusal to Take a Test or Alcohol Test Failure

    If you refuse to take a test police officers use to determine a driver’s blood alcohol concentration or take a test and fail it, the officer will confiscate your Maryland driver’s license. He or she will also give you a form that provides info about the incident called Officer’s Certification and Order of Suspension.

    The driver has the right to ask the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) for an Administrative Hearing to show why their driving privilege shouldn’t be suspended. You can do that at any time within 30 days after the Order of Suspension, but you must request a hearing within 10 days after the order if you want to make sure your driving privilege isn’t suspended before the hearing.

    Bear in mind that those with a commercial license may have their driving privilege disqualified.

    If you are looking for a DWI or DUI attorney in Maryland, you have come to the right place. At Scrofano Law, we have represented many clients in court and have been able to get them favorable outcomes, including getting their charges reduced or dropped.

    The Penalties for DUI and DWI in Maryland


    Almost anyone who reads or watches the news knows that Maryland police officers expend much energy pursuing intoxicated drivers. To prevent drunk driving offenses, harsh penalties are meted out to persons convicted of driving under the influence.

    First-time DWI offenders in Maryland will face a fine of $500 or up to two months in jail, while the subsequent offense could result in another $500 fine and up to a year in jail. In some instances, the Motor Vehicle Administration will dock points from the driver’s record and suspend the license for a set period.

    Subsequent offenses committed by a driver under DWI will usually attract harsher penalties, including being admitted into the ignition interlock program. Under the program, a convicted driver’s vehicle is fitted with an ignition interlock device that makes it impossible for the motor vehicle to start if they are over the legal limit.

    For first-time DUI convictions, the maximum penalty is a year in prison and no more than $1,000 in fines. Subsequent offenses will see harsher penalties imposed, as high as a $2,000 fine and up to two years in jail for a second offense DUI. A third DUI offense attracts even harsher penalties, including the Maryland motor vehicle administration assigning points to a driver’s record and driver’s license suspension.

    If you have been charged with DUI in Maryland and do not wish to have to deal with the harsh penalties, it is critical to contact an experienced Maryland DUI lawyer. At Scrofano Law, we have extensive DUI/DWI defense skills and have helped many clients get favorable outcomes with their DWI cases.

    Comparison Between DWI and DUI in Maryland


    Both a DUI and DWI are serious charges in Maryland that would attract severe penalties. As such, if you have been charged with either of these, it is crucial to contact a drunk driving attorney as soon as possible.

    A Maryland DWI could result in losing your license for at least two months and being slapped with a $500 fine. A DUI, on the other hand, is a more severe charge that could result in at least a year in jail for an offender and fines of up to $1,000.

    It is also important to note that conviction could increase your auto insurance rates or even result in some insurers canceling your coverage. If you have been charged or arrested with a DWI or DUI in Maryland, contact a drunk driving defense law firm such as Scrofano Law.

    We have an experienced Rockville Criminal Lawyer who knows all the strategies and tactics to get a favorable outcome in your DUI or DWI in Maryland case.

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