DWI vs. DUI in Texas: Different Offense, Different Punishment
Not the Same Offense
Every state handles drunk-driving cases differently. Many use the terms DWI and DUI interchangeably. But Texas distinguishes between the two. DWI and DUI are separate yet similar offenses. Thus, if you have been arrested for drunk driving, it’s essential you educate yourself on these two offenses so you can know what you’re up against.
DUI is the less serious of the two offenses. It applies to minors who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This means a minor can be charged with a DUI for having any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her blood. The minor’s BAC level (blood alcohol concentration) can be well below the State threshold of .08% that applies to DWI cases. This is Texas’s zero tolerance law, which applies to minors.
DUIs are charged under the Texas Traffic Code, as opposed to the Texas Penal Code. But don’t let the code designation fool you; a DUI comes with harsher penalties than a simple traffic violation. DUI is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, a license suspension of up to one year, alcohol education classes, and potentially community service and an order to install an ignition interlock device in your car.
DWIs fall under the purview of the Texas Penal Code and are treated more seriously than DUIs. You can face DWI charges if you drive while intoxicated. This is statutorily defined as not having the use of your normal mental or physical faculties due to 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 with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of .08% or higher.
The penalties for DWI are more serious than those for DUI. For example, a first-time DWI offender can face a fine of up to $2,000, 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and a license suspension of up to one year. This is in addition to an annual fee (surcharge) of $1,000 for three years to maintain your driver’s license. These are just the court-imposed penalties. You may face other consequences such as increased insurance requirements and even the loss of your job.
Facing DUI or DWI charges can be stressful. The thought of losing your license for up to a year can leave you feeling panicked. Luckily, these are just the potential penalties the court can impose. In reality, you need to speak with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth DWI/DUI defense attorney to get a better understanding of the consequences you face. The facts and circumstances of your case can impact the penalties the court can impose significantly. An attorney can inform you of these and help you formulate a plan of action to fight your charges or minimize the impact of a conviction.
If you’re facing DWI or DUI charges in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email email@example.com, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.