DUI & DWI in Maryland

One bad choice is all it takes to send your life reeling. Considering the youthful nature of the state population, you might expect there is plenty of spirited fun to be had. DC is right next door. It feels like there is a university every other mile and there is an overabundance of young political aides always looking to blow off a bit of steam.

So a few drinks here or there are as much a part of the political game as, say, the handshake. This is all well and good until someone decides to hop behind the wheel after a few too many drinks with the gang. If you are pulled over, you could possibly be charged with two types of offenses.

What is a DUI vs. DWI?


Being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious infraction. It means, among other things, that your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) posted at a level of 0.08% or higher. You can be sentenced:

First Offense:

  • License revocation: Up to 6 months.
  • Fine: $1,000
  • Imprisonment: Up to 1 year
  • 12 points on your license

Second Offense:

  • License revocation: Up to 1 year. Required Ignition Interlock Device
  • Fine: $2,000
  • imprisonment: Mandatory minimum of 5 days. Maximum 2 years
  • 12 points on your license
  • Mandatory participation in an alcohol abuse assessment and program.


You can be charged for DWI if your BAC is 0.07% or higher:

In many cases, people who end up on the lower end of the BAC spectrum but fail miserably on a field sobriety test end up with this charge. Officer judgment is a major factor.

First Offense:

  • License suspension: Maximum 6 months.
  • Fine: $500
  • Imprisonment: Up to 2 months
  • 8 points on your license

Second Offense:

  • License suspension: Maximum 12 months.
  • Fine: $500
  • Imprisonment: Up to 1 year
  • 8 points on your license

Penalties go higher if you have a passenger who is a minor or if you are facing a third charge.

Administrative Penalties

In addition to the possible criminal charges above you will also face penalties with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration for failing or refusing to take a chemical test. You have the option to request a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings if you believe you can show cause as to why your license should not be suspended. You must request a hearing within 10 days of receiving a order of suspension. The fee to request a hearing is $150. You will be notified of the date and time of your hearing.

If you do not prevail at the hearing or do not request one you will have your license suspended for:

Refusing a Chemical Test:

  • License suspension: 270 days or IID for 1 year (1st offense)
  • License suspension: 2 years (2nd offense)

Failing a Chemical Test:

  • License suspension: 180 days (1st offense)
  • License suspension: 2 years (2nd offense)

Ignition Interlock Device

Maryland requires anyone convicted of driving while impaired to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicle as a condition of reinstating their license. If you are required to have an IID you must have it installed by an approved dealer. You will pay a fee for the installation and a monthly monitoring fee.

Alcohol Education

If your license was revoked due to a DUI or DWI offense, you will need to attend an Alcohol Education Program before applying for a new one. The program is designed to steer you clear of any future incidents involving intoxicating beverages and cars―unless from a seat in a taxi or bus.

The course also takes a physiological route and analyzes each participant to determine whether there is a more serious problem involved with abuse or dependency. If you fall into this category the division will require you to undergo more intensive therapy in the form of a treatment program.

How to Reinstate Your Maryland Driver's License

Before you can even think about having your license reinstated you must satisfy a minimum portion of your suspension. This is based upon the number of total times your license has been revoked:

  • 1 revocation waiting period: 6 months.
  • 2 revocations waiting period: 12 months.
  • 3 revocations waiting period: 18 months.
  • 4 or more revocations waiting period: 24 months.

After you have satisfied this time period you will have to call the Driver Wellness and Safety Division at (800) 950-1682 and request your license be reinstated. The department will walk you through the process of applying to have your Maryland driver's license reinstated.

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