Difference Between DUI and DWI in Baltimore

Driving While Impaired is a lesser charge than Driving Under The Influence. If you are booked under the Transportation Article 21 Section 902 there are multiple charges that can be written with regards to alcohol or drugs all which warrant the attention of a Baltimore DUI lawyer.

Driving Under the Influence (DUI): 21-902(A)

First, you have the 21-902A1 which is driving or intending to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Under the Influence in Maryland is the highest charge and is not a misdemeanor like driving while intoxicated, despite what many people think. Driving Under the Influence basically means you are under the influence of something, be it alcohol or drugs, but you are under their influence to the point where:

  • You cannot make decisions.
  • You should not be driving.
  • You are incapable of making good choices

That level of influence is the most egregious thing to violate for drunk driving laws in Maryland, so it comes with a maximum penalty. On your first offense you are in jail with a $1000 fine, 12 points on your license which can result in a suspension or revocation of your license and that is a big deal.

The 21-902A2 violation, which is right under the DUI provision, is driving or attempting to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol per se. It is a lighter version of the A1 but it comes with the same exact penalty.

There is also a violation under 21-902A3, which you rarely see because most of the time you are charged with 21-902A1 or A2, but this is also driving or intending to drive under the influence of alcohol or alcohol per se with a minor in the vehicle. You violate this provision if you have been driving drunk with kids in the car. A3 is considered very egregious and those three—the trio—those 21-902A charges 1, 2, and 3 are maximum penalties and jail with $1000 fine.

Driving While Impaired (DWI): 21-902(B)

Driving or attempting to drive while being impaired by alcohol is not as serious as driving under the influence. In this particular situation you are impaired, meaning that you are not at your driving best. You are either driving very close to the legal limits, on the legal limits, or slightly outside of the legal limit. That can mean if you blow .06, .07, .08, .09, usually as long as you don’t hit .1 BAC, then DWI charges can come into play.

It is certainly a lesser charge but it comes with the same stigma as an alcohol offense and, again, because Maryland uses both DUI and DWI, people in other states may see a DWI on your record and think you were charged with the equivalent of a DUI. So, avoiding a DWI conviction is also very important.

We are human beings. We sometimes make strategically bad choices, and lack of awareness of DWI laws can get you in trouble. For example, it is very possible for someone to go out to a bar, have a drink or two, and then say to themselves: “I am not intoxicated, and I am certain I am under the 0.08 limit. I am going to drive home because I am legally sober.”

Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case in Maryland. Oftentimes, that person may get stopped, perform the Field Sobriety Tests, and then blow into a Breathalyzer that comes back with BAC results of .06. In Maryland, that means you can still get a DWI. It is a lower charge, but particularly for people unfamiliar with alcohol driving laws in Maryland, they may be unintentionally putting themselves at risk.

DWI Penalties in Baltimore

The maximum penalty is a $500 fine, 60 days in jail and 8 points. The points are standard points and they can’t be adjusted. If you are found guilty those are the points that are assigned. The fine and the possible period of time can be adjusted. Those are up to the judge. The judge may consider what you do for a living, how you act in court, what you have done in the past.

If you have hired an attorney, then your attorney will guide you through the process and give you advice as to what to be prepared for in a trial and in the process of prepping for a trial.