If you have received a DUI charge in Maryland, you are far from alone. Thousands of residents and visitors to the state face DUI and DWI convictions every year. The experience can be both intensely embarrassing and intensely stressful, leading many to simply accept charges without seeking legal counsel.

Unfortunately, even a first offense may lead to jail time, steep fines and a mark on your record that may affect future opportunities. Here is a quick introduction to help you know what to expect if you are confronting a DUI charge.

What is the difference between a DWI and DUI?

Maryland law distinguishes between two offense levels depending on the extent of intoxication. A DWI carries lesser penalties and applies when the BAC is 0.07%, while a DUI offense applies when the BAC is 0.08% or higher. It is important to keep in mind that Maryland is an implied consent state, which means that refusing a BAC test may result in the presumption of illegal intoxication and a possible DUI conviction.

What are potential penalties for a first offense?

A first DWI offense may carry up to a $500 fine, two months in prison and six months of license suspension. An individual facing a first DUI conviction may receive a fine of up to $1,000, a year in jail and a six-month revocation of driver’s license.

What happens after a repeat offense?

Penalties increase steeply for second and subsequent offenses. A second DUI conviction may result in up to two years in jail, license revocation for one year and a $2,000 fine. Those with two DUI offenses within a five-year period may also need to attend an alcohol abuse program and install an interlock ignition device when the one-year license suspension is complete.

How can an attorney help?

Every DUI case involves very different and very specific circumstances. Consulting with an attorney experienced with DUI defense as soon as possible after a charge may help those facing a potential conviction to minimize penalties and move on with their lives more quickly.