Maryland DUI/DWI Frequently Asked Questions

What is the maximum penalty for a DUI in Maryland?

The maximum penalty for a DUI in Maryland is 1 year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine for the first offense, and 2 years imprisonment and/or a $2,000 fine for a second offense.  See MD Code, Transportation §§ 21-901(a)(1), §27-101. If the offense involves the transportation of a minor, the maximum penalty increases to 5 years imprisonment and/or a $ 5,000 fine.


Do first-time DUI offenders go to jail in Maryland?

If you are convicted of a DUI, the court has the discretion to impose up to the maximum sentence, even if it is your first offense. While it is unlikely that a first-time DUI offender with an otherwise clean record will be sentenced to serve time in jail, a defendant’s criminal history is just one of the many factors that judges weigh at sentencing.

Aggravating factors that increase your likelihood of receiving jail time for a DUI conviction include:

  • Evidence of a high level of impairment or intoxication;
  • If the offense involved a car accident and/or property damage;
  • If the offense involved bodily injury or death;
  • If you were transporting a minor at the time of the offense; and
  • If you were combative or uncooperative during the traffic stop

The sentencing court will also consider any mitigating factors supporting leniency, such as:

  • Completion of a certified Alcohol Education Program
  • Completion of a certified Driver-Improvement Program
  • Submitting to a substance-abuse evaluation, and successfully completing any recommended treatment.
  • A lack of prior alcohol-related driving offenses


What’s the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Maryland?

Maryland law prohibits both Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”) and Driving While Impaired (“DWI”). Both laws are misdemeanors that criminalize drunk driving, however, a DUI is considered a more serious offense and has greater maximum penalties.  To be convicted of a DUI, the State must prove that you drove, or attempted to drive, with a blood-alcohol-concentration of .08 or higher (or, if under the age of 21, 0.02 or higher). Far less is required for a DWI conviction. The State need only prove that you drove, or attempted to drive, while impaired to some degree by drugs or alcohol.


Penalties for First-Time DWI Penalties for First-Time DUI
Up to 60 days in jail Up to 1 year in jail
Up to a $500 fine Up to $1,000 fine
Up to 6 months license suspension Up to 6 months license revocation
8 driver’s license points 12 driver’s license points


What do I do if I get pulled over for a suspected DUI in Maryland?

Remain calm and be respectful to the investigating officer. Provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance to the officer upon request. Remember that everything you do and say is being recorded on bodycam and/or dashcam footage and can be used as evidence against you.

If an officer suspects you are driving or attempting to drive under the influence of alcohol, you will be asked to perform a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests intended to assess your balance, coordination, and cognitive function. The most common exercises are standing on one leg while counting out loud, walking heel-to-toe on a straight line, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test. You are not required to submit to any of these tests, however refusing to do so will not prevent the officer from arresting you on suspicion of DUI.

Remember that if you choose to submit to Standardized Field Sobriety tests, the results can be used against you as evidence. As you perform these tests, the officer will be watching for any signs of impairment, such as swaying, falling, slurred speech, and inability to follow directions. Listen carefully to the officer’s instructions, and do not begin the tests until told to do so.  Inform the officer promptly of anything that could interfere with your ability to properly perform the tests, such as injuries, disabilities, or uneven terrain.

You may also be asked to submit to a Blood-Alcohol Concentration (BAC) test. Maryland law presumes that a person with a BAC of .08 or greater is under the influence of alcohol. You may refuse to submit to a BAC test, however doing so will not prevent the officer from arresting you for suspicion of DUI and may result in additional criminal and administrative penalties.


If you are charged with a DUI or DWI:

  • Do not resist arrest.
  • Exercise your right to remain silent.
  • Make sure you have a copy of all your charging documents, including any statement of charges and DR-15 Advice of Rights form.
  • Request an MVA hearing within 10 days.
  • Contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.


Do you lose your license immediately after a DUI in Maryland?

If you are charged with a DUI or DWI, your driver’s license will be confiscated by the charging officer, and you will be issued a temporary license. The temporary license is valid for 45 days. If you do not request an MVA hearing to review suspension of your license within 10 days of the traffic stop, your privilege to drive in Maryland will be automatically suspended upon expiration of the temporary license. If you do not request an MVA hearing within 30 days of the stop, you will have completely waived your right to contest suspension of your license.

Upon conviction, a DUI will put 12 points on your driver’s license, making your license eligible for revocation based on points. A DWI conviction will add 8 points to your license, making your license eligible for suspension based on points. Md. Code, Transportation § 16-402.


We deal with DUI/DWI cases on a daily basis. For more information or a free consultation, please contact the Maryland criminal lawyers of Silverman Thompson or call (800) 385-2243.




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