Depending on your age, you may face either a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or a DUI (driving under the influence) charge if you operated a vehicle while intoxicated in Texas. The difference between DWI and DUI in Texas laws applies to the age of the charged driver. If you’re 21 or older, the DWI charge will apply to you. Meanwhile, if you’re under 21, the DUI charge could apply or the DWI charge, it’s up to the officer. In general, a DWI charge is more serious.
You need a DWI attorney from our firm for your case regardless of your age. Texas judges can hand out relatively harsh sentences in DWI and DUI cases, so you may suffer significant penalties, even as a first-time offender. Before you take your next step, it may help to understand the differences between DWI and DUI in Texas law.
What Is the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI in Texas Law?
Facing a DWI or DUI can seem daunting, but it’ll help to understand the offenses and how they’re typically charged. The offenses are very similar since they involve a person operating a vehicle in a public place with alcohol or drugs in their system.
However, the primary difference between a DWI and a DUI in Texas is that DWI generally applies to people ages 21 and older, whereas DUI generally applies to people under 21. Since Texas holds adults to a different legal standard than minors and younger adults, the penalties for a DWI can be more severe.
What Constitutes DWI in Texas?
Whenever a person 21 years old or older operates a vehicle in a public place while being legally intoxicated, they could face a DWI charge. Being intoxicated means having lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. This BAC is the limit Texas has adopted as the per se limit.
A person aged 17 – 21 can also face a DWI charge because at 17 in Texas a person is considered an adult.
What Constitutes a DUI in Texas?
It’s actually quite easy for a minor to face a DUI charge in Texas. That’s because Texas is a zero tolerance state for minors who consume alcohol. Thus, if someone under the age of 21 operates a vehicle with any alcohol in their system, they will likely be charged with DUI, regardless of impairment.
Is a DWI Worse Than a DUI?
Generally speaking, a DWI charge in Texas is worse than a DUI because of the more severe penalties. DUIs fall under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, as opposed to DWIs, which fall under Texas Penal Code § 49.04.
A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor, while a DWI is a Class A or Class B misdemeanor or higher, depending on the specific details of your case.
What Are the Penalties for DWIs and DUIs?
Even for first-time offenders, the penalties for DWIs and DUIs can be very significant. For example, for a DWI charge, a first-time offender faces fines of up to $2,000, a driver’s license suspension for up to two years, jail time from 3 to 180 days, and additional fines up to $3,000.
However, for a DUI charge, a first-time offender faces a maximum fine of $500, a 60-day suspension of their driver’s license, and up to 40 hours of community service.
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How an Attorney Will Help in Your DWI or DUI Case in Texas
Getting arrested for a DWI or DUI can be a scary experience. You may feel overwhelmed at the prospect of facing jail time and having to make a case for yourself. However, you don’t have to fight a DWI or DUI charge on your own. Instead, a DWI lawyer can help you defend against these charges.
A criminal defense attorney from our firm can make your case for you, fighting for a dismissal or reduction of your charges. To build your case, your lawyer will:
- Review the officers opinion as to what was probable cause for the initial detention
- Investigate your arrest for any illegality or irregularity
- Collect evidence to support your case, such as police dashcam footage
- Corroborate your evidence with bystander or expert witness testimony
- Challenge the authorities’ evidence against you
- Explore the possibility of a plea bargain with the prosecutor
- Fight for dismissal or reduction of your charges
- Argue your case before a judge and jury if necessary
Connect With Us for a DWI and DUI Attorney in Texas
Now that you understand the difference between DWI and DUI in Texas law, you can take the next step toward resolving your or your loved one’s case. This step could involve contacting a criminal defense attorney from Blass Law for a no-obligation consultation. Our firm handles criminal cases such as DWI and DUI almost exclusively, so we know how to resolve your case for you.
During our initial consultation, we can give you a better idea of how we’ll approach your defense. So, call us today or fill out our contact form to get started on your DWI or DUI case.