Being convicted of any kind of drunk driving charge in can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Now you have to spend time finding a Maryland criminal defense lawyer who can represent you successfully and hopefully limit the consequences of your charges at work and at home, as well as with your driver’s license. At this point, one of the first things you’ll want to know is the nature of your charges. So you ask yourself, what is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?
DUI or Driving Under the Influence
A DUI is the more severe of the two charges. If you are charged with DUI in Maryland, it generally means you had a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08 or higher, although that is not mandatory for this charge. A DUI conviction will result in 12 points on your Maryland license and up to a $1,000 fine for your first offense. For out of state drivers, the points and the conviction will transfer to your home state. In some cases a conviction can result in jail time as well. The 12 points on your license will result in same action by the MVA. Obviously, due to the seriousness of the offense and its ramifications, finding qualified counsel should remain an immediate priority.
DWI or Driving While Impaired
DWI is the lesser of the two charges, but still carries unpleasant consequences. Generally speaking, a DWI is the favored charge when you blow less than .08 on the BAC test or if you refuse the breath altogether. If convicted of a DWI charge, the result is 8 points on your driver’s license which will result in an MVA suspension for a limited period of time, generally starting at 6 months and increasing from there depending on the number of the offense. Alternatively, you may have the interlock installed on your car.
DUI Per Se or Driving Under the Influence Per Se
Typically when charged with a DUI and you have blown into the breath machine at the police station, you will also be charged with DUI Per Se. The Per Se means that you blew at or over a .08. This charge is based on the breath number alone and is completely divorced from any other evidence, such as the field tests which you may have completed. This can be a challenging charge to beat because it is only based on the number, thus, once the breath result makes it into evidence in the trial (which is not always a given) then the government has proven that particular charge. The Per Se charges carries the same penalties as the DUI charge listed above, however if you are convicted of both charges in court, they will merge into one and you will only receive the penalty one time, not twice. All of the previous alcohol charges are considered misdemeanors in Maryland.
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