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What Is the Difference Between DUI and DWI in Texas?

Posted on in DWI

Prosper DUI defense attorney

In some states, DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence) are considered synonymous. However, in Texas, DWI and DUI are actually two distinctly separate charges. That is because DUI involves underaged drinking, whereas DWI can apply to anyone who is of legal drinking age. The two charges are legislated, enforced, litigated, and penalized differently. Below is a closer look at these offenses and their corresponding consequences.

DUI: Definition and Enforcement

DUI is a charge brought against anyone under the age of 21 who is found to be operating a motor vehicle or boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unlike DWI, blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are unnecessary in proving that someone has consumed alcohol for these charges. A police officer can claim that a young person is “under the influence” by merely smelling alcohol on his/her breath. In addition, the driver does not need to be drunk or otherwise impaired to be charged with a DUI.

DUI: Penalties

Since DUI is legislated under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code instead of the Texas Penal Code like DWI, the penalties for violations are different. If charged with DUI, a person might face a Class C misdemeanor that could include any of the following punishments, depending on the circumstances:

  • Fines of up to $500 for a first offense

  • Required participation in an alcohol awareness program

  • Up to 40 hours of community service for a first offense or up to 60 hours for a second offense

  • Driver’s license suspension

  • Fines of up to $2,000 for a third offense

  • Jail time of up to 180 days for a third offense

DUI: Exceptions

It is important to understand that the specific DUI charge does not exempt those under the age of 21 from DWI charges. If the police believe the driver is significantly impaired by alcohol or another substance, they are permitted to perform further evaluation through a minor’s implied consent, possibly including tests that prove the driver has a BAC level above the legal limit of .08 percent. If the results of these tests prove that a minor is above the legal blood alcohol limit, then the DUI charges will become DWI charges, which are much more severe: Class A or B misdemeanors, depending on whether it is a first or second offense.

Contact a Collin County DUI Defense Attorney

While DUI is not the same as DWI, it still carries significant legal ramifications. If you or your son or daughter has been accused of DUI, it is important to consult with a dedicated Frisco criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C., our knowledgeable legal team will thoroughly review the details of the traffic stop and arrest to make sure your child’s rights were not violated at any point. We will fight to keep your child’s driving privileges intact. Call us today at 469-333-3333 to schedule a free consultation. 

 

Sources:
https://www.txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/traffic/safety/sober-safe/intoxication.html
https://www.timesrecordnews.com/story/news/local/2019/12/31/dui-arrest-rates-dropped-32-percent-texas/2777571001/
https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/documents/DL-20.pdf

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