Driving While Impaired by Alcohol (DWI) and Driving While Under the Influence (DUI)

In Drunk Driving Cases, Little Things Make a Big Difference

One hundredth (.01) of a percentage point may seem like a small thing but it makes a big difference when it comes to drunk driving laws in Maryland. Driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI) and driving while impaired by alcohol (DWI) are crimes frequently charged against drivers in Maryland. A driver can be charged with either or both, and which offense is charged depends in part on the measure of a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) as determined by a breath test or a blood test. Additionally, the penalties that you face also depends in part on whether it’s your first DWI or DUI offense, or one of a few.

Drivers with a BAC of .07 percent (but less than .08 percent) may be charged with DWI and for a first offense, a driver may be subject to penalties that include a fine of $500; incarceration of up to two (2) months; a 60-day suspended license; and eight (8) points on your license. In some instances, a driver charged for the first time with a DWI may be given probation before judgment (PBJ); however a PBJ cannot be expunged from your record.

However, if you have a BAC of .08 percent (a difference of one one-hundredth) then you will likely be charged with DUI and the penalties that you face are far different than if charged with DWI, a lesser charge (BAC of .07 percent and less than .08 percent). This tends to hold true even for a first- time offense. Namely, a driver charged with DUI can face penalties of a $1,000 fine; up to one (1) year of incarceration; a six-month suspended license; and twelve (12 ) points on your license. For a second DUI offense, a driver may face penalties of a $2,000 fine and up to two (2) years of incarceration; and for a third DUI offense, a driver may face penalties of a $3,000 fine and up to (3) years of incarceration. Additionally, a driver convicted of a DUI must install an ignition interlock system on their vehicle.

A driver with a BAC of at least .08 percent is presumed to be intoxicated and can be arrested and charged with DUI. In order for a driver with a BAC of .07 percent (but not more than .08 percent) to be arrested for DUI (a more serious offense than DWI), there must be other factors observed that indicate a driver impairment.

Many DUI cases involve an officer stopping a driver in his or her vehicle because the officer observed the driver violating a traffic (or other) law. Typically, the officer asks the driver to get out of the car for the purpose of performing one or more field sobriety tests. These are standardized tests which include the horizontal gaze nystagmus test; the walk and turn test; and the one leg stand test. The police officer assessing the driver will likely ask the driver to submit to a (preliminary) breath test in the field, at the site of the police stop, then the officer will make a decision whether to arrest or release the driver based on the outcome of the above tests.

And the Right Attorney can Make an Even Bigger Difference

There are a number of ways to defend clients charged in drunk driving cases and a number of opportunities to resolve cases favorably, from MVA hearings, to trial in the district court, to trial in the circuit court. Robin Rucker Gaillard, Esq., is an experienced DWI and DUI Maryland attorney able to review your case and assess whether the police acted appropriately in any investigation and to assess the merits of a challenge to your charges. For example, many drivers charged with DUI were stopped by a police officer as a result of the officer observing the driver violate a traffic law but sometimes the officer is unable to specify a legitimate reason for stopping a driver. In those instances, the stop may be illegal. The law does not support a police officer being able to use in court any evidence that was gathered during an illegal stop. Without evidence to support the driver being impaired, there is likely no case against the driver and the matter is generally dismissed. Many police stops are lawful and if it is established that the police had a valid reason for stopping a driver, it is critical to establish whether the police officer had sufficient evidence to have the driver do the sobriety test(s). If no valid reason exists to have a driver get out of his or her vehicle for the purpose of participating in the sobriety test(s), then in those instances an experienced attorney like Robin Rucker Gaillard, Esq., may argue on behalf of the driver that the field sobriety tests and other evidence gathered by the police should not be admissible at any trial on the DUI charges.

Attorney Robin Rucker Gaillard can successfully assist drivers charged with DWI and DUI cases and get the best possible result in your case. It’s important to have the right attorney advocating for you at MVA hearings and in court. Call now for a consultation with the Law Office of Robin Rucker Gaillard, LLC, and get started finding a solution to your legal issues today.

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