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What is the Difference between a DUI and a DWI?

December 2, 2017

You are most likely familiar with the terms DUI and DWI, which are often used interchangeably. DUI is shorthand for driving under the influence and DWI stands for driving while intoxicated, and both terms concern the use of a vehicle while not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties thanks to a drug or alcohol.

While the terms are colloquially used interchangeably, they usually do have important differences under the law of each state. In some instances, drunk driving may be referred to as a DUI or a DWI. In other states, a DWI may be used for someone who is impaired by either drugs, alcohol, or some other substance, while a DUI is only used for those under the influence of alcohol. It is important to look at the laws of each state to understand the differences.

In the state of Texas, the difference between a DUI and DWI basically boils down to the age of the accused. If someone is over the legal drinking age of 21 and are found to be legally intoxicated, which is considered a .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), or is impaired by drugs, then they may be charged with a DWI.

However, if a person under the age of 21 is pulled over and is found to have any alcohol at all in their system, then they can be charged with a DUI in Texas, regardless of whether or not they pass the legal limit of intoxication as in the case above. This is because Texas has a zero-tolerance policy in place when it comes to underage driving and alcohol.

Another important distinction in Texas is that a person under the age of 21 can still be charged with a DWI if the driver has a BAC greater than the legal limit of .08.

The penalties for a DWI and DUI also differ in the state of Texas. For a first time DWI offender, they face a fine of up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, the loss of their driver’s license for up to a year, and the imposition of an annual fee between $1,000 and $2,000 for three years in order to retain their license.

On the other hand, a minor convicted of a DUI may receive a fine of up to $500, a 60-day suspension of their license, as well as community service and mandatory alcohol-awareness classes.

Repeat offenders face more severe consequences for either a DUI or DWI.

Drinking and driving are never a good mix, and offenders must be aware of the seriousness of the charges they face. The consequences often go beyond the immediate legal consequences and may include family fallout, the loss of employment, and severe financial hardships. It’s important to understand that being charged with a crime is only the beginning of a long and difficult process but the outcome is not set in stone.

In order to have the best possible outcome for your case, it is important to have an experienced DUI lawyer on your side in order to ensure that your rights are protected as you navigate through the complicated legal processes.

The team at Fears Nachawati have experienced Austin DUI lawyers, as well as offices and representation available throughout the great state of Texas. If you’ve been charged with a DUI or DWI, it is imperative that you retain the services of an experienced and knowledgeable law firm that will fight on your behalf.

For your free, no obligation legal consultation, please call (866) 705-7584, or visit the Austin office of Fears Nachawati on Congress Drive. Offices are also available in Dallas, Houston, Fort Worth, and San Antonio.


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