What is the Difference Between DUI and DWI in Texas?

Most of us are aware of the what it means to be under the influence or intoxicated, but did you know that in the state of Texas there is a clear difference between being charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI)?

The Charge of DUI

Under the Texas Traffic Code, a DUI is a charge that is only issues to minors (in this case those under the age of 21). Due to the fact that those under the age of 21 are not permitted to drink any amount of alcohol legally, they may be charged with a DUI if they are found to be driving with any amount of alcohol in their system. Whether or not they are under the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of .08 is irrelevant. (However, minors may still be charged with a DWI (see below) if their BAC is over the legal limit.)

When someone is charged with a DUI in Texas, he or she will generally be mandated to pay a fine of up to $500, take mandatory alcohol awareness classes, serve up to 40 hours of community service, and receive a license suspension of up to 60 days.

The Charge of DWI

Alternatively, a DWI is a much more serious offense, as it is charged under the Texas Penal Code. A DWI occurs when an individual is found to be driving with a BAC of .08 or higher, as this means that they are in fact impaired. Penalties for DWI can be anything from hefty fines to license suspension or revocation, to jail time. Jail time is possible even if this is a first offense.

Common Drunk Driving Defenses

It is important to understand your rights in order to ensure that they remain protected. There may be a defense to the charge if it involved:

  • Illegal search and seizure: A police officer must have probable cause in order to stop a vehicle. It is not uncommon for this requirement to be undermined. If the search that was conducted violates any of your Fourth Amendment rights, any evidence that was gained through such search will be deemed inadmissible in a court of law.
  • Faulty or inaccurate breath test results: Dependent upon the training and procedures taken for conducting breathalyzer tests, the results may be called into question. It is important that the machine has been cleaned, accurately stored and calibrated, and was used properly. Elements such as medication and pain fumes carry the potential of influencing the results.

Since both charges are distinguishable from one another, they both require different defense strategies. This is why it is so important to seek the consultation of a knowledgeable and experienced Texas criminal defense attorney to best protect yourself from the repercussions of such charges.

Let the Qualified Criminal Defense Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm PLLC Help

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we are well aware of the serious consequences that can have long-lasting – or even permanent – effects on your life. We are well versed in the laws that govern both DUI and DWI and will work hard to minimize any potential consequences and protect your freedom. To learn more about your options and to schedule a free consultation, visit us online or call us at 713.568.5380 today.

Posted in DWI