While most people are familiar with the terms ‘DUI’ and ‘DWI’, the similarities and differences might not be fully understood. As laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and state to state, we are presently examining the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas. In Texas, driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated have some commonalities and differences that, in legal terms, have different outcomes and carry different penalties. While both refer to the operator of the vehicle being intoxicated above acceptable levels that result in the impairment of their faculties, due to drugs or alcohol, there are some crucial differences in the state of Texas, due in part to their zero-tolerance policy.
The Differences Between Texas DUI and DWI
In Texas, there are a few differences between a DUI and DWI, but the main one involves the age of the individual operating the vehicle. According to Texas law, a vehicle operator who is 21 or older is legally intoxicated when their blood or breath-alcohol concentration is .08, or when they are impaired by drugs. In either of those scenarios, the individual can be charged with a DWI.
If a driver is pulled over who is under 21 years of age and they are found to have consumed any amount of alcohol, that individual can legally be charged with a DUI. The question of impairment is irrelevant as under Texas law, drivers under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive with any amount of detectable alcohol in their system; in Texas, this is known as the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy. In the same situation, if the minor has a blood or breath-alcohol concentration of .08 or higher, they can also be charged with a DWI.
Penalty Differences Between a DWI and DUI
The differences between a DWI and DUI also include the enforced penalties. For first-time DWI offenders, possible penalties include a hefty fine of up to $2,000, a driver’s license suspension for up to a year, jail time served between 3-and-180 days, and a reoccurring annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for up to three years to maintain their driver’s license. These penalties are severe, can affect your driving record, and be highly disruptive to daily life and maintaining gainful employment.
DUI Penalties for Minors
In terms of potential penalties for a minor who is pulled over for driving with detectable alcohol in their system, they vary somewhat: fines of up to $500, 20-to-40 hours of community service, a driver’s license suspension for 60 days, and the completion of a series of mandatory alcohol-awareness courses. With each subsequent offense, for both adults and minors alike, the penalties increase in severity for both DWIs and DUIs.
The main difference between DUI and DWI in Texas involves a couple of factors: the age of the individual operating the vehicle, and the amount of impairment. While an adult being charged with a DWI has to have a legal drug or alcohol impairment (BAC) of .08, a minor found to have any amount of detectable alcohol in their system can be charged with a DUI; this is due to the zero-tolerance policy in Texas. A minor, however, who also has a BAC of .08 or higher can also be charged with a DWI.
If you find yourself being charged with a DUI or DWI in Texas, the potential penalties can be severe and carry with them long-reaching consequences. You will want to take the offense very seriously, and seeking out drunk driving defense lawyers in Texas can help ensure you are getting the best possible defense and outcome for yourself.