Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Driving While Impaired (DWI)
In Maryland, there are two types of drinking and driving offenses — driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while impaired (DWI).
If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level is 0.08 (8%) or higher when tested after a traffic stop, you may be charged with a DUI. If your BAC level is 0.07 (7%) or higher, you may be charged with a DWI. It is also a crime to drive while impaired by drugs (illegal or legal) or a combination of drugs and alcohol. In Maryland, DUIs and DWIs are considered misdemeanor crimes.
If you are found guilty of either a DUI or DWI, you may be incarcerated, fined, and/or have your driver’s license suspended. The severity of the penalty will depend on many factors, including whether it is the driver’s first drinking and driving offense, and the driver’s BAC level, driving record, and age at the time of the offense. Another factor is whether the driver was transporting a minor at the time of the offense.
Aside from the potential criminal penalties, there are administrative sanctions that the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) may impose. When you have been charged with a DUI or DWI, your license will automatically be suspended. You will receive a temporary license that allows you to drive for 45 days. While a request for administrative hearing regarding your license suspension must be sent within 30 days, you must send your request for administrative hearing within 10 days of the traffic stop to ensure that your license is not suspended prior to your administrative hearing. If you don’t request an administrative hearing within 30 days, your license will automatically be suspended on the 46th day. An administrative law judge will preside at your hearing and impose any administrative sanctions, such as license suspension. At the administrative law judge’s discretion, and upon good cause shown, a license suspension may be modified to permit temporary driving privileges for things such as work or medical appointments.
In some circumstances, you may be entitled to participate in an ignition interlock system program through the MVA. An ignition interlock device would then be installed in your vehicle and monitor your BAC levels. While an approved third party may install an ignition interlock device, the MVA oversees the program and monitors your participation and progress.
If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you are held to stricter standards regarding DUIs or DWIs. If your BAC level is 0.04 (4%) or higher while driving a commercial vehicle, you may be charged with a DUI or DWI. As a commercial driver, even if you are driving your personal vehicle when charged with a DUI or DWI, these charges and convictions may significantly impact your CDL and commercial driving privileges.