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Washington, D.C. DUI/DWI Law

If you are stopped and arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving in the District of Columbia, you will generally be charged with either driving under the influence (DUI), or "driving while impaired" (DWI). There is also a third charge, OWI, or operating a motor vehicle while impaired, that drivers may sometimes plead to.

An OWI charge is the least serious of the three, but still carries significant consequences. The primary benefit people gain from agreeing to plead guilty to an OWI charge is that in most cases, any other charges related to their arrest will generally be dismissed as part of the plea agreement. Penalties for a first offense include up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $300 dollars. Fines increase for a second offense occurring within D.C.s 15-year lookback period. A third offense within this period can mean up to one year in jail and a $5000 dollar fine.

A DWI (the second most serious charge of the three) is charged when drivers have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of between .04 and .08. With DUI charges (the most serious of the three), the BAC must be at least .08 or greater. In either case, penalties are substantial and may include mandatory jail sentences, the loss of your driving privileges, and significant fines.

First-time drunk driving offenders in the District of Columbia may be eligible to participate in a diversion program, provided certain conditions are met for eligibility.

Maryland Drunk Driving and DUI Laws

In Maryland, there are only two charges: DWI and DUI. As in D.C., the lesser charge is for "driving while impaired." Maryland also shares the same .08 BAC benchmark for DUI as the District of Columbia. Penalties for DUI in Maryland include a minimum 45-day license suspension, up to a $1000 dollar fine, and up to one year in jail. Penalties for subsequent offenses increase significantly and each conviction adds 12 points to your Maryland driving record.

Drunk driving laws and penalties for DWI, though less severe, are still significant. These include a possible suspension of driving privileges for up to 60 days, up to $500 dollars in fines, and up to two months in jail on a first offense. Each conviction adds 8 points to your Maryland driving record.

Maryland has no diversion program per se, but some offenders are eligible and do receive the sentence known as "probation before judgment" (PBJ). A PBJ is essentially a two-year period of probation that, if successfully completed, can have many of the same benefits as diversionary programs.



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