In Texas, the acronyms DUI and DWI are both used but for different offenses. This can be confusing, especially because some states use the same terms but with different meanings. The critical difference in Texas is the age of the driver in question.
If you are 17 years of age or over and your blood-alcohol level is at least .08, or if you do not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties due to alcohol or drugs, you can be charged with a DWI. If you are over 17 but under 21 and you have a detectable amount of alcohol in your system, even if you are below .08 and not intoxicated, you can be charged with DUI (driving under the influence). Some states require a BAC of at least .02 in order to charge someone with a DUI, but Texas is a zero-tolerance state and doesn’t require a BAC that high. If the policeman who stops you smells alcohol, that can be justification for issuing a DUI citation to someone under 21.
A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor. The highest fine for a Class C misdemeanor is $500. Probation may also be included in a Class C misdemeanor conviction. Driver’s license suspension is also often part of a DUI conviction.
The fine for a DUI is not as high as a DWI fine typically is, but that doesn’t mean that a DUI is inconsequential. In fact, it has the potential to complicate both educational and career prospects. A DUI may make it more difficult to get a job or to get into college.
There can also be complications with insurance. When you want to reinstate your driver’s license after a DUI, you may need to get an SR-22. An SR-22 is evidence that you have a policy. Typically it’s necessary to have an SR-22 for a few years after a DUI. The SR-22 helps the DMV ensure that the policyholder is paying insurance premiums. Those premiums are likely to be higher, of course, than they would have been without the DUI.
If you have questions about a DUI or DWI, we can help. Please contact us today to learn more!