What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in the State of Texas?
In many states, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) is referred to as a DUI (driving under the influence). However, in the State of Texas, the terms are not used interchangeably as there is a legal distinction. The legal distinction has to do with age – the legal BAC (blood alcohol content) with which you may operate a motor vehicle above the age of 21 is 0.08%. If you are pulled over and your BAC is above a 0.08%, you will be charged with a DWI – a crime that can carry heavy penalties and long-term consequences in the State of Texas. (You can also be charged with a DWI, if your blood alcohol level is below a 0.08%, if the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol into your body at a blood alcohol level less than 0.08%. The state is charging DWIs at less than 0.08% more often than ever before.)
Also, Texas has very strict penalties for anyone below the legal drinking age of 21 who is pulled over with any amount of alcohol detected in their blood. If you are operating a motor vehicle, and are pulled over under the influence, you could be charged with a DUI. Most states refer to this as a “zero tolerance” law for minors rather than a DUI charge. Additionally, if you are pulled over underage after you have been drinking, you could be charged concurrently with both a DWI and a DUI – it is up to the officer’s discretion.
If you have been charged with the crime of either a DWI or a DUI, it is important that you seek legal representation as soon as possible. A strong legal defense can greatly reduce your chances of getting your charge either reduced or completely dismissed.
Being convicted of a DWI or DUI can carry onerous penalties. Many of these penalties could follow you for the rest of your life, resulting in personal, work, and living-related consequences.
Possible penalties for a DWI and DUI include, but are not limited to:
• Suspension of license.
• DWI = 30-180 days 1st offense, surcharges of $1,000-$2,000/year. 2nd, 3rd or more DWI’s carry harsher jail sentences and fines.
• DUI = A fine up to $500, 20-40 hours of community service.
• Mandatory alcohol awareness classes.
• Ankle, at-home, or in-car interlock breath-monitoring devices.
• Mandatory probation periods, which may include drug testing.
• Professional and living-related consequences. Some jobs, countries, and residences will not accept an individual with a previous DWI conviction.
With a strong legal defense, you might be able to avoid/reduce these consequences. An attorney that focuses on criminal defense and handling DUI and DWI charges in the State of Texas knows the various legal options to help you get your case reduced or dismissed.
Jason Trumpler is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has represented hundreds of clients charged with DUI and DWI in the State of Texas. As a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney, he has handled thousands of DUI and DWI cases in both California and Texas and has tried close to 100 DWI related trials to verdict in front a jury. He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. He practices in Travis, Williamson, Hays, Caldwell, Burnet, Bastrop, Lee, and Bell counties. Mr. Trumpler represents clients charged with DUI, DWI, and all other criminal related charges. If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI or DUI, please contact our the Law Offices of Jason Trumpler today at (512) 457-5200.