What is the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas?

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

If you have been arrested for an offense involving intoxicated driving in Texas, you may be wondering what the difference is between DUI and DWI. There can be some confusion around the difference as the acronyms are sometimes used interchangeably. 

In Texas, DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated. This is the offense that adults will be charged with for driving a car while intoxicated (what would be considered a “DUI” in many other states). Under Texas Penal Code 49.04, a person commits the offense of DWI if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. “Intoxicated” can be proved by the State of Texas in one of three ways: 

-You consumed so much alcohol (or drugs) that you lost the “normal use” of your mental faculties

-You consumed so much alcohol (or drugs) that you lost the “normal use” of your physical faculties

-You had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. 

A typical first-time DWI in Texas is charged as a Class “A” or Class “B” misdemeanor. DWIs can be technically complex cases and experienced DWI attorneys should challenge every stage of the case, including whether the State of Texas has proven the element of intoxication. 

In Texas, DUI is reserved for any person under 21 years of age who operates motor vehicles in public places with “any detectable” amount of alcohol in their system. In Texas, only minors can be charged with DUI. Under Texas law, a DUI is a Class “C” misdemeanor. The potential penalties for a DUI are not as severe. A first-time DUI is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500, plus an alcohol awareness course and community supervision. It is important to note that a minor who is at least 17 and operates a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.08 could be charged with DWI (a more serious offense). 

The defense of a DWI or DUI is very complex and it is very important to hire an experienced DWI/DUI attorney if you are facing a charge. Attorney Jose Ceja is a former prosecutor who has spent hundreds of hours studying breath and blood testing and is certified to administer police balance tests (known as Standardized Field Sobriety Tests). If you have been charged with DWI or DUI anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today.

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.
Posted in DWI