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What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Maryland?

A federal agency recommended that states reduce the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent to reduce highway fatalities. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimated that lowering the BAC threshold could reduce the annual 10,000 drunken driving deaths by as much as 10 percent. However, the proposal is widely expected to take a long time to be adopted by all states; it took more than 20 years for states to adopt the NTSB’s recommendations to lower the BAC limit in 1982.

In 2011, 33 percent of Maryland’s 485 traffic deaths involved alcohol, which was a two percent increase from 2010. While the BAC limits are being reviewed, drivers must still be aware of the laws affecting them today regarding drunk driving. In Maryland, there are at least two charges that fall under the scope of drunk driving, and they are determined by a driver’s BAC.


Maryland law sets driving while intoxicated (DWI) as the lesser offense. However, it is still a serious conviction that can affect a person’s driving record, auto insurance and employment opportunities. Drivers can be convicted of DWI after a chemical test, including a breathalyzer, that registers a BAC of between 0.07 percent and 0.08 percent. DWI is punishable by up to $500 in fines, up to a one-year license suspension and up to 60 days in jail.


Driving under the influence (DUI) is the more serious offense in Maryland. Drivers can be convicted of a DUI after a chemical test registers a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher. This charge is punishable by up to $1,000 in fines, up to a one-year license suspension and up to one year in jail.

If you were arrested and charged for DWI or DUI in Maryland, call a La Plata criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your freedom and driving privileges.

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