DWI vs. DUI in Texas

DWI vs. DUI in Texas

November 9, 2018

In some states, the terms “driving while intoxicated” ( DWI ) and “driving under the influence” ( DUI ) are interchangeable. In Texas, however, these are two distinct crimes. Therefore, it’s important for you to be aware of and understand the differences, as these differences will play a role in how you form the defense for your case.

Here’s some helpful information from a criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX about the differences between DWI and DUI.

What to know

Here in Texas, a DUI and a DWI both refer to a person who operates any type of vehicle while intoxicated. For these purposes, the state law enforcement agencies consider a person intoxicated if he or she does not have their normal use of physical or mental faculties because of the influence of a drug or alcohol.

So what is the main difference to be aware of, if these two terms refer to very similar types of illegal activities?

The primary differentiator between the two types of crimes is the age of the driver. A person who is at least 21 years old and is legally under the influence (meaning they have a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or more or are impaired in any way by drugs) can be charged with a DWI. A person who is less than 21 years old, meanwhile, who is pulled over with alcohol in his or her system will be charged with a DUI.

In a DUI, it does not matter whether or not the minor is actually impaired by the alcohol in his or her system in any way. Because it is illegal for people under the age of 21 to consume alcohol, it is also illegal to drive even with a trace amount of alcohol in their system. There is a zero-tolerance policy in this matter—do not expect any lenience from the police if charged with a DUI, even if you had a very low blood alcohol content.

A person under the age of 21 can also be charged with a DWI if his or her breath or blood alcohol concentration is more than .08.

There is another difference between the two types of driving-related crimes, and that is the penalties one can expect to receive for each type of offense. A first-time DWI offense will likely result in a fine of up to $2,000, jail time of three to 180 days, up to a year’s license suspension and high fees for three years to retain a driver’s license. First-time offenses for DUI are much lower. The minor can expect a fine of up to $500, a 60-day suspension of a driver’s license, 20 to 40 hours of community service and some alcohol awareness and education courses. The severity of the penalties increases for any subsequent offenses that occur.

If you’re interested in learning more about the differences between DUI and DWI in Texas, contact an experienced criminal attorney in Lubbock, TX at The Law Office of Rob Biggers. We look forward to assisting you.

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