DWI vs. DUI
In Texas, the terms DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are often used interchangeably and they both refer to individuals operating a vehicle while intoxicated in a public place. However, under Texas law, “DWI” is the specific legal term for this offense, while “DUI” is only officially used to describe the charge when a person under the age of 21 is found with any alcohol in their system.
For individuals who are 21 years of age or older, a DWI charge can be made if they operate a vehicle while legally intoxicated. Legally intoxicated is defined as having a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, or being impaired by drugs to the extent that normal mental or physical faculties are affected.
On the other hand, when a person under the age of 21 is pulled over and found to have any alcohol in their system, they can be charged with a “DUI” (or “DUIA,” which stands for “Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol”). This is the only officially recognized use of the term “DUI” in Texas law.
It’s important to note that regardless of whether it’s referred to as a DUI or DWI, the legal consequences for being charged and convicted of driving while intoxicated in Texas can be severe. Penalties may include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, probation, and even jail time. Repeat offenses or aggravated circumstances such as accidents causing injury or death can result in more severe punishments.
Zero Tolerance for Minors
In Texas, the presence of alcohol in the system of a driver under the age of 21 is a violation of the law, regardless of whether the minor is impaired by the alcohol. Texas follows a strict zero-tolerance policy, which means that it is illegal for individuals under 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Furthermore, a person under the age of 21 can also face a DWI charge if their blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) measures .08 or higher, or if they were driving while under the influence of drugs. These criteria apply to both minors and individuals who are 21 years of age or older.
It is important for individuals, especially those who are under 21, to understand the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Texas. Violating these laws can result in serious legal repercussions, such as fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, community service, and other penalties.
To navigate these situations effectively, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney who specializes in handling DWI cases, as they can provide guidance, protect your rights, and help you navigate the legal process.
DWI vs DUI. Which is Worse?
In Texas, the distinction between DWI & DUI offenses holds importance, as the penalties and legal implications differ.
While it is essential to take both charges seriously, the consequences of a DWI in Texas are generally more severe compared to a DUI. The penalties for a DWI can range from substantial fines to potential incarceration in jail or prison, depending on the circumstances surrounding the offense. Repeat offenses or aggravating factors such as accidents causing injury or death can lead to even harsher punishments.
The penalties for a DUI charge in Texas, primarily applicable to minors, can include fines, license suspension, mandatory alcohol education programs, and community service. Though the repercussions for a DUI are significant, they are typically not as severe as those for a DWI.
DWIs are charged under the Texas Penal Code, making them a more serious offense. DWIs apply to both minors and individuals who are 21 years of age or older. To be charged with a DWI in Texas, the individual must have a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, or be under the influence of drugs while operating a vehicle.
First Offense DWI. A first time DWI offender, may receive a fine up to $2,000, a jail sentence between 3 – 180 days, a loss of driver’s license up to one year, and an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for 3 years to retain a driver’s license.
DUIs are typically reserved for minors under the Texas Traffic Code. This means that individuals under the age of 21 who are found with any amount of alcohol in their system while driving can be charged with a DUI. It is worth noting that being charged with a DUI in Texas can be relatively easier, as any presence of alcohol constitutes an offense.
First Offense DUI. A minor charged with drinking and driving may receive a fine up to $500, a 60-day suspension of their driver’s license, 20 – 40 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness classes.
You can review the exact Texas penal code here: Section 49.04 which defines the range of punishments for DWI & DUI charges.
In Texas, the severity of a DWI versus a DUI charge is distinctive. While both offenses should be taken seriously, the penalties and legal consequences for a DWI are generally more severe. DWIs are treated as serious criminal offenses under the Texas Penal Code, carrying potential heavy fines and even imprisonment.
DUIs, on the other hand, primarily apply to minors and result in penalties that, although significant, are not as severe as those for a DWI.
It is important to consult with Brian Roark if facing either a DWI or DUI charge in Texas. Brian and his team will provide crucial guidance, protect your rights, and help navigate the legal process, increasing the chances of achieving the best possible outcome.