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DWI vs. DUI in Texas: What’s the Difference?

May 18, 2019

Drunk driving laws can be confusing, and you may not fully understand them. Your lack of understanding doesn’t protect you from a conviction, though. It’s important to fully understand the laws related to drinking and driving so that you don’t unwittingly break them.

You probably understand why driving while intoxicated is illegal in Texas. It’s because impaired driving can cause serious accidents that can injure and kill. It’s important to have control of your physical and mental functioning so that you don’t harm someone in a vehicle crash.

Both adults and minors can be charged with drunk driving offenses. Adults are usually charged with DWI, or driving while intoxicated. Minors can be charged with both DUI (driving under the influence) and DWI. So what’s the difference between the two? Why can only minors be charged with a DUI?

Minors Who Drive Under the Influence

DUI means driving under the influence. This is a crime for minors, no matter how much alcohol they have in their systems. This is due to the fact that minors aren’t even supposed to be drinking. If a minor is caught driving after having one drink (or just a sip, if it’s detectable), they can be charged with a DUI.

However, minors can also be charged with the more serious crime of driving while intoxicated (DWI). This is when the juvenile’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over .08. This means that their driving is impaired. They will face heavier penalties for a DWI conviction than a DUI conviction. They will face the same penalties an adult would face when charged with a DWI.

Adult DWI Convictions

Adults can’t be charged with a DUI in Texas. The DUI charge is reserved only for minors who drive after having any alcoholic beverage. Adults who drive intoxicated can be charged with a DWI, per Texas DWI laws. Adults are technically allowed to drive after having an alcoholic beverage as long as they aren’t impaired and their BAC isn’t above .08.

However, there are occasions when adults are charged and convicted of drunk driving crimes when their BAC was less than .08—for example, in the case of intoxicated commercial truck drivers. In any case, if a police officer pulls you over and determines that you’re impaired, you can still receive a DWI charge.

The good news is that both adults and minors can fight against drunk driving charges and potentially avoid dealing with the negative consequences of a conviction.

Consult with a Drunk Driving Lawyer About Your Case

Whether you’re being charged with a DWI or a DUI, the penalties you’ll face if convicted could ruin your life. You could go to jail or prison, you’re facing heavy fines, and you could end up with a permanent black mark on your criminal record. You might be able to avoid these negative penalties, but you’ll need to fight against your charges in order to do so.

For help fighting a drunk driving crime in Texas, it’s usually a smart idea to partner with a DWI lawyer. Call Chris Lewis & Associates, P.C. at 214-665-6930 or send in the online contact form down below. Start building your defense now.


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