You have probably heard the terms DWI and DUI, which are often used interchangeably. “DWI” stands for “driving while intoxicated,” whereas “DUI” (or “DUIA”) stands for “driving under the influence (of alcohol).”
Both DWI and DUI may refer to operating a vehicle while intoxicated, but Texas law makes a clear distinction between the two legal terms. Jason S. English, criminal defense attorney, explains the difference between DWI and DUI.
What Is DWI in Texas?
In Texas, DWI means that the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) was higher than 0.08, or 0.04 for commercial drivers. Drivers may also face the charge of DWI if they get caught operating under the influence of drugs that impair their ability to drive.
What is DUI?
Texas has a zero alcohol tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Drivers under 21 cannot have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system under Texas law.
DUI in Texas is a charge that only applies to drivers under 21 who got caught with detectable blood or breath alcohol content lower than the legal DWI threshold of 0.08.
If a 20-year-old driver in Texas gets pulled over and a breath test detects a blood alcohol concentration under 0.08, the driver may face the criminal charge of DUI or DUIA. A driver over 21 with the same blood alcohol content wouldn't face any charges.
However, Texas drivers over and under 21 will face a DWI charge if their BAC is 0.08 or greater.
Penalties for a DWI or DUI Conviction
DWI and DUI charges have different legal consequences in Texas. In a nutshell, DWI counts as a more serious crime with charges under the Texas Penal Code. DUIs get charged under the Texas Traffic Code and have lighter penalties.
Texas drivers under 21 found guilty of DUI may face:
- First offense: A fine of up to $500, up to 40 hours of community service, and driver's license suspension for 30 days.
- Second offense: A fine of up to $500, up to 60 hours of community service, and driver's license suspension for 60 days.
- Third offense: A fine of up to $2000, jail time of up to 180 days, and driver's license suspension for 180 days.
A DWI counts as a Class B misdemeanor in Texas. Drivers who have committed DWI may incur the following penalties:
First offense: A fine of up to $2000, up to 180 days in jail, and driver's license suspension of up to 1 year, plus an annual driver's license retention fee of up to $2,000 for 3 years. A first offense DWI with an alcohol concentration over .15 is also enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor with a range of punishment equal to a $4,000 fine and up to one year in jail.
Second offense: A fine of up to $4,000, up to 1 year in jail, and a 1-year minimum of driver's license suspension, plus an annual driver's license retention fee of up to $2,000 for 3 years.
Third offense: A fine of $10,000, up to 10 years in jail, driver's license suspension for up to 2 years, and an annual driver's license retention fee of up to $2,000 for 3 years.
In addition, a DWI conviction almost always leads to higher auto insurance premiums and could have devastating consequences for your career and reputation.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help with Your DWI or DUI Case in Texas
A knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can give you a fair advantage in a DWI or DUI case. An experienced DWI criminal lawyer knows how the local courts work and can construct a powerful line of defense for your case or pursue a plea bargain.
Your choice of a criminal lawyer can make all the difference in the outcome of your DWI charges. Among other legal actions, your criminal defense lawyer can:
- Assess your case, including its circumstances and any existing evidence
- Gather evidence in your favor
- Help you choose the defense line that best suits your case
- Work with the prosecution and try to get the charges dismissed or reduced
- Fight for you at trial
Jason S. English Law, PLLC: DWI and DUI Criminal Lawyer
As a former prosecutor, Jason English knows all about how Texas courts operate. Today, as a DWI and DUI criminal lawyer, Mr. English leverages his legal experience to benefit people who may be facing drunk driving charges.
Jason S. English Law has helped many people in Austin, TX, get their DWI charges dismissed or reduced, even in the bleakest circumstances.
Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me in Austin, TX
If you're searching for a “criminal defense attorney near me,” you may be dealing with a complicated situation that could have serious, long-lasting, and expensive consequences.
Are you facing DWI charges? You need legal help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will help you protect your rights, freedom, reputation, and finances.
Copyright© 2021. Jason S. English Law, PLLC. All rights reserved.
The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No statement in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient's state, country or other relevant licensing jurisdiction.