Many people think the terms DUI and DWI are interchangeable. However, there are distinct differences in Texas that relate to the nature of the crimes and the sentences.
In Texas, a DUI and a DWI refer to the individual who is operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
If you are 17 years of age or over and you are arrested with a blood-alcohol level of at least .08, or if you are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Texas.
If you are over 17 but under 21 and you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, you can be charged with DUI (Driving Under the Influence). The level of alcohol could be under the .08 limit and you might not be intoxicated.
While some states require young drivers to have a BAC of at least .02 to bring a DUI charge, Texas has a zero tolerance approach.
If the policeman or highway patrol officer who stops you smells alcohol on your breath, that can be justification for issuing a DUI citation if you are under 21.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 106.041, DUI by a minor is defined as operating a vehicle in a public place while the driver has “any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.” There is no requirement for the driver to be impaired.
A DUI offense is a Class C misdemeanor. A DWI carries heavier penalties.
A DWI offense is a Class B misdemeanor unless it can be shown that the driver had a blood/alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 percent or more. In these cases, the offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. When drunk driving results in bodily harm to another person, the crime may be elevated to a second or third-degree felony, carrying a prison sentence of two to 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are charged with either DWI or DUI in Texas, you should hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent you. These are highly technical offenses and there may be ways to beat the charges that you are not aware of. Read more about our credentials here.
Call the Medlin Law Firm today for a free consultation at (682) 204-4066.