The Difference Between DUIs and DWIs in Texas

Many states do not separate the crimes of driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). Texas is one of the states that do distinguish between DUIs and DWIs and it makes this distinction based on age.

Driving Under the Influence

A person may be charged with a DUI if they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Texas has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking. This means that in Texas any person may be arrested and charged with a DUI provided that he or she is under the legal drinking age of 21 and has any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system.

DUI Elements

The elements of a DUI that must be proven are:

  • Operation: the offender must be operating a motor vehicle
  • Minority: the offender must be under the age of 21 years old
  • Under the influence: the offender was under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Because Texas is a zero tolerance state, any detectable amount of alcohol or drugs in a minor’s system is sufficient for a DUI charge.

DUI Penalties

Minors who face DUI charges may be sentenced with penalties such as:

  • Driver’s license suspension
  • A fine of up to $500
  • Alcohol education program
  • Community service
  • Installation of ignition interlock device in your vehicle

Driving While Intoxicated

A person may be charged with a DWI if they are operating a motor vehicle, while intoxicated, in public place. Unlike DUIs, there is a certain level of intoxication that must be exceeded in order for an individual to be arrested for a DWI. For drivers who are 21 years or older, the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.08%. For commercial drivers, the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.04%.

An individually may also reach the intoxication level required to be charged for a DWI if he or she lacks the normal use of their mental or physical faculties. This may be determined through the use of field sobriety testing.

DWI Elements

  • The elements of a DWI that must be proven are:
  • Operation: the offender must be operating a motor vehicle
  • Intoxication: the offender must be intoxicated
  • Public place: the offender must be operating the vehicle, while intoxicated, in a public place

DWI Penalties

  • Fines
  • License suspension or revocation
  • Community service
  • Imprisonment
  • DWI education and intervention programs
  • Installation of ignition interlock device in your vehicle

Similarities between DUIs and DWIs

DUIs and DWIs both require two elements: the operation of a motor vehicle and some sort of alcohol or drug consumption by the driver.

Those who are convicted of DUIs and DWIs may also face similar penalties such as license suspension or revocation, community service, fines, alcohol education programs, and ignition interlock devices.

Differences Between DUIs and DWIs

DUIs and DWIs differ in their elements, for example:

  • DWIs apply to anyone over the age of 21
  • DUIs apply to anyone under the age of 21
  • DWIs require a certain level of intoxication
  • DUIs require any presence of drug or alcohol in the driver’s system

Whether you are a minor facing a DUI charge, or an adult facing a DWI charge, it is vital that you seek a strong legal defense. Both DUIs and DWIs come with extensive consequences, ranging from monetary penalties, to license revocation, to damaging your professional career for the rest of your life. The Wilder DWI Defense Firm is equipped with a team of experienced attorneys who have successfully challenged many DWI offenses for their clients. Contact the firm today to schedule your free consultation.

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