DUI and DWI are abbreviations for the most common alcohol and drug related offenses relating to driving in Texas. DWI is the abbreviation for driving while intoxicated while DUI means driving under the influence. Both designations involve being intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs, or illegal drugs over the legal limit. Keep in mind, though, that there is no legal limit for illegal drugs. They are classified as an additional crime. The answer to the question posed above is yes. There are differences between a DUI and DWI conviction in Texas. They are the age of the intoxicated driver, the blood alcohol content level of the intoxicated drive, and the seriousness of the penalties assessed once a sentence is imposed upon plea or after a trial.
Age is More Than a Number
DWI and DUI statutes make a distinction on charges based on the age of the suspected drunk driver. The younger the person is the more likely he or she will be charged with DUI because the legal drinking age in Texas is 21.
- Over 21: Individuals over the age of 21 who are determined to be driving drunk mostly get charged with DWI in Texas at the time of the arrest.
- Under 21: Individuals younger than 21 who are determined to be driving drunk at the scene of the traffic stop tend to get charged with driving under the influence.
Blood Alcohol Content Matters
It is common knowledge that the legal limit for driving drunk in Texas is reading a blood alcohol content level of over .08%. That number is much less for drunk drivers under the age of 21.
- Over 21: A person 21 years or older is driving while intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol content reads over .08%.
- Under 21: Because people under the age of 21 are not permitted to drink alcohol it follows that driving after drinking any amount of alcohol is enough to sustain a driving under the influence charge. Texas has a “zero tolerance policy” when it comes to underage drinking. Any amount of alcohol will do and there is no need to demonstrate an impairment to charge a person under 21 with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Penalties are Serious
Fines, penalties, probation, jail time, community service, and mandatory attendance in drunk driving and alcohol awareness classes are common penalties for both DWI and DUI offenders. So is the suspension of the intoxicated person’s driver’s license. In both cases the intoxicated driver at time of arrest and with any subsequent conviction will have his or her driver’s license suspended for an automatic and fixed period of time. Individuals convicted of a DWI face a longer period of suspension of his or her driving privileges than those with a DUI charge. In DWI criminal actions the suspension period is 60 days for the first offense, 90 days for the second offense, and 180 days for the third offense.
DWI Criminal Defense Attorney In Plano, Texas
Your liberty may be at stake if you have been pulled over for suspected drunk driving. Call the law offices of Kimberly Griffin Tucker at (214) 445-6336 or email our Plano, Texas office to schedule your free initial consultation. Serving individuals in Denton, Collins, and Dallas counties call us to schedule your consultation.