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Driving while impaired or under the influence is a poor decision that many Americans unfortunately make. Often, people lose track of their alcohol consumption and decide to get behind the wheel, which results in them receiving a DUI or DWI charge. However, when it comes to DUI vs DWI, the jargon can be confusing.

Definition of DUI vs DWI

When it comes to DUI vs DWI, many people use the terms interchangeably. While the definitions vary depending on the state, they are often different charges with different consequences. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) refers to a person who has a Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) of .08% or higher. In many states, .08% is the legal limit at which a person will receive a DUI charge.

In states such as Maryland, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) refers to a person who has a BAC higher than .07% and does not successfully complete aspects of the field sobriety test. Aspects of the field sobriety test include:

  • The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test where officers watch the movement of an individual’s eyes to observe eye movement reactions
  • The Walk-and-Turn Test where individuals have to walk heel-to-toe in a straight line
  • The One-Leg-Stand Test where individuals have to stand on one leg and count for 30 seconds

While these three tests have scientific backing, there are less common tests, such as the Alphabet Test, which the NHTSA does not validate. Therefore, it’s possible for a person to encounter a test that is not one of the standardized tests.

Charges and Penalties

The DUI DWI charges and penalties that come while driving under the influence are what primarily differentiates DUI vs DWI. Generally speaking, a DUI is a more severe crime. A person with a DUI charge can face up to a year in prison, $1,000 fine, 12 points on their license, and losing their license for up to six months.

A DWI has less severe charges, but they can still severely affect a person’s life. Someone with a DWI charge may receive a $500 fine, face up to two months in prison, have 8 points on their license, and have their license suspended for up to six months.

These charges only reflect the first offense. If a person receives a second DUI vs DWI charge, they may permanently lose their license, face more jail time, and have mandatory participation in alcohol abuse programs.

Finding Legal Counsel

When you need a criminal defense attorney in Maryland, look no further than the professionals at Shapiro, Zwanetz & Lake. Our team has many connections in Howard County, Montgomery County, Frederick County, Anne Arundel County, and other counties in the state. When you’re ready to contact your friends that defend, call us today at (410) 927-5137. We’re ready to set you up with a free consultation and get you the representation you need.