Basic DUI Terms and Definitions for the State of Maryland

The ABC’s of DUI’s

maryland-dui-terms-1When dealing with a DUI you might feel as if you are swimming through Alphabet soup. DUI, DWI, IID, PBJ, BAC…

What do all of these legal acronyms and words mean?

Here we’ll explain some basic terms and words associated with a DUI court case.

Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and you should contact a DUI attorney to fully explain any of the terms and potential related consequences.


Terms You Might Encounter During a DUI Arrest

BAC/BAL: Blood Alcohol Content/Level

BAC refers to the amount of alcohol present in your bloodstream. Maryland law states that your BAC cannot exceed .08% (or .02% if you are under 21) when operating a motor vehicle.

Breathalyzer Device

A Breathalyzer device measures a person’s BAC by determining the ratio of alcohol in the bloodstream by the amount of alcohol exhibited by the breath from your lungs. For a more detailed look at how these devices work, click here. A breath test is considered a chemical BAC test in Maryland.

FST: Field Sobriety Test

Police will usually ask you to perform a field sobriety test first if you are stopped for suspicion of a DUI in Baltimore, Maryland. This is a series of physical tasks that try to determine your level of coordination. Common parts of the test include walking a straight line and balancing on one leg.

HGN: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

HGN is the technical term for the involuntary movement of the eyes when a person is intoxicated. Eyes will often jerk or bounce around. During a field sobriety test, an officer might test you for HGN by asking you to follow an object, like a pen or finger, with your eyes.

Implied Consent

When you originally applied for your Maryland driver’s license, you signed an implied consent agreement. This means that if the police have probable cause to pull you over, you must submit to a chemical test if asked by the officer. If you refuse a chemical test, your license will be suspended for 120 days.

PAS/PBT: Preliminary Alcohol Screening/Breath Test

This is one of the chemical tests that officers may use to determine your BAC. It can be used by the police to determine if you are under the influence of alcohol and give the police probable cause to arrest you, but the results of the test are inadmissible in court.

(See Breathalyzer device)


Definitions of the Different Drunk Driving Charges in Maryland


DUI: Driving Under the Influence

A person in Maryland is considered to be driving under the influence when they are in control of a motor vehicle and their blood alcohol content is or greater than 0.08.

DWI: Driving While Impaired

Driving while impaired is a lesser charge than a DUI, but a convictions still has serious consequences. A person who has control of a motor vehicle and whose BAC is at least 0.06 may be charged with DWI.

OUI/OWI: Operating Under the Influence/While Impaired

Similar to DUI and DWI, OUI and OWIs are for cases not involving cars, trucks, or motorcycles. A person operating another type of vehicle, like a boat or a bicycle, with a BAC above the legal limit could be charged with an OUI or OWI.


Terms Used During a DUI Trial

Burden of Proof

It is the state and the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove that you are guilty of the charges against you “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

This means that they hold the burden of proof. This means that the state, including the officers arresting you, the lab technicians responsible for your blood or urine tests, and the district attorney all must meet certain criteria to prove that you are guilty.

Rising BAC Defense

Some Baltimore DUI attorneys may use this argument during their defense of their clients. This defense works on the premise that the driver began driving with a BAC lower than the legal limit, but during the time of arrest, more alcohol was absorbed through the body and produced a higher BAC when the chemical test was finally administered. This is based on the fact that alcohol is not immediately metabolized or digested.


Possible DUI Sentences and Consequences in Baltimore

AEP: Alcohol Education Program

As part of your sentencing you may be required to participate in an alcohol education program. These are typically weekly classes that teach the dangers of alcohol and the consequences of drinking without moderation.

Your DUI lawyer in Maryland may suggest that you participate in a local AEP before trial, as it is an indication that you are taking the charges seriously and are being proactive about a possible alcohol/addiction problem.

IID: Ignition Interlock Device


IIDs are modifications made to your vehicle. In order to start the ignition of your car, you must breathe into the device each and every time you wish to drive.

If the device measures your BAC higher than the predetermined limit, it will prevent you from starting your car.

If you were previously convicted for a DUI in Maryland, and are convicted again, you will be required to purchase and install an IID for your vehicle. In addition, if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test, an IID may be your only option to avoid having your license suspended.

Injury/Property Liability

If your arrest resulted from an accident that harmed another person or their property, you could face a civil suit in addition to your DUI trial in Maryland.

First DUI Offense

The penalties for your first DUI conviction in Maryland include up to 1 year in jail, up to $1000 fine (not including court costs and fees), and license suspension for a minimum of 6 months.

Second DUI Offense

A second DUI conviction can result in up to 2 years in jail, up to $2000 fine (not including court costs and fees), a license suspension for a minimum of 1 year, and the requirement of installing an interlock ignition device in your vehicle.

Third DUI Offense

A third (or subsequent) DUI conviction can result in up to 3 years in jail, up to $3000 fine (not including court costs and fees), a license suspension for a minimum of 18 months, and the requirement of installing an interlock ignition device in your vehicle.

PBJ: Probation Before Judgement

Probation before judgement is sometimes offered to first time offenders. Depending on your circumstances, PBJ might be the best option for you, because it allows you to avoid the points on your license associated with a DUI/DWI conviction. Before accepting a PBJ, consult with an experienced Baltimore DUI attorney.


Are you still feeling overwhelmed?

A DUI case in Maryland is a serious matter and should not be dealt with lightly. If you are involved in a drunk driving case, consult with an experienced Baltimore DUI attorney.


Dilip Paliath, Esq.

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