What Is The Difference Between DWI and DUI in Texas?
We often hear the terms DUI and DWI used interchangeably on TV, newspapers, or in everyday conversations. However, when you are faced with one of these in the State of Texas, these two offenses are very different.
A DUI (Driving Under The Influence) only applies to those persons under the age of 21. This offense is governed by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 106.041 which states:
- A minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.
Because, if you are under the age of 21 you are not to be drinking at all, there is no requirement of intoxication. Just merely have a detectable amount of alcohol is enough for an officer to write a ticket. You will notice that only alcohol applies to DUI.
The other major distinction between DUI and DWI is a DUI is only punishable by a fine only. The only time that this offense enhances to possible jail time is if the minor has been previously convicted of DUI.
A DWI, on the other hand, is governed by the Texas Penal Code Section 49.04. This statute states:
- A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
Intoxication is defined as “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more”
It is also important to note that there are no age restrictions with DWI. Anyone that is driving a motor vehicle or watercraft that meets the definition of intoxication is subject to arrest and conviction of DWI.
As you can see the standard to find someone guilty of DWI is much higher than that of DUI and as a result the penalties for a DWI are much more serious:
- Class B Misdemeanor (1st offense) – 72 hours in jail up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2000
Class A Misdemeanor (1st offense w/ Alcohol Concentration .15 or greater) – up to 365 days in jail and fine up to $4000
- Class A Misdemeanor (2nd Offense) – 30 days in jail up to 365 days in jail and a fine up to $4000
- 3. 3rd Degree Felony (3rd or subsequent Offense) – 2 years in prison up to 10 years in prison fine up to $10,000
Also, with both DUI and DWI there are serious driver’s license penalties that accompany even being accused of these offenses, let alone being convicted.
It is imperative that you contact an attorney immediately if you have been accused or arrested of either DUI or DWI. Time is crucial when handling these cases. Your attorney will be able to help you much more if you contact them as soon as you can. And, of course, the police are not your friends and are not trying to help you out of your situation. Never speak to them without an attorney present.
If you reside in Denton County and have been arrested for a DWI or a DUI in Northern Texas, UNT or any Suburb of Denton County contact Wheeler Law Office Today for a free initial consultation!