Maryland has several types of intoxicated driving offenses, DUIs (driving under the influence) and DWIs (driving while impaired).
A motorist can be convicted of a DUI—the more serious of the two offenses—for driving or attempting to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more or while substantially impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance. A DWI conviction can be based on a lower level of impairment—a conviction just requires proof that the alcohol or drugs consumed affected the driver’s normal coordination to some extent.
The possible penalties for a DUI and DWI conviction depend on how many prior convictions the offender has. An intoxicated driving conviction is considered a first offense and is a misdemeanor if the driver has no prior DUI or DWI convictions within the last ten years.
The penalties for a first impaired driving conviction generally depend on the classification of the offense (DUI or DWI) and whether the offense involved alcohol or drugs.
DUIs involving alcohol carry the same general penalties as a DUI involving controlled substances. A first offense generally will result in up to one year of jail and a maximum $1,000 in fines. However, an offender who was transporting a minor passenger faces up to $2,000 for fines and a maximum two years in jail.
While drug and alcohol treatment isn’t required for a first offense, any time completed in treatment can count towards the offender’s jail sentence.
DWI offenses involving alcohol or drugs carry the same penalties in Maryland. The offender will serve a maximum two months in jail and have to pay a fine of up to $500. For DWI offenses where the driver was transporting minor passengers, the maximum penalties are $1,000 in fines and six months in jail.
As with a first DUI, Drug and alcohol treatment isn’t mandatory for a first DWI, but any time the driver spends in treatment can be credited against the jail sentence.
The court reports all intoxicated driving convictions to the Motor Vehicles Administration (MVA). A first offense will result in a maximum six-month driver’s license suspension.
Suspended drivers can generally apply for the ignition interlock program to reduce the suspension period and regain some driving privilege during the suspension period. If accepted, the suspended driver can operate a motor vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device (IID) during the suspension period. After 180 days with the IID, license reinstatement is possible. The following convictions require the enrollment and completion of a six-month ignition interlock program prior to license reinstatement:
Drivers who refused testing in violation of the state’s implied consent laws or had a BAC of .15% or more must hold an IID for one year before being eligible for reinstatement.