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Differentiating Between DUI and DWI in Texas

July 20, 2023

Differentiating Between DUI and DWI in Texas

In the state of Texas, navigating the legal landscape surrounding driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) can be complex and bewildering. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are distinct differences between DUI and DWI in Texas, each with specific legal implications. In this article, we will delve into the definitions, legal implications, potential defenses, and key differentiators between DUI and DWI in the state.

I. DUI vs. DWI Definitions:

1. Driving Under the Influence (DUI): DUI refers to the act of operating a vehicle while under the influence of any impairing substance, be it alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. In Texas, the term “DUI” is commonly used to describe cases involving minors (under 21 years of age) who are found to have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a vehicle. This strict zero-tolerance policy emphasizes the state’s commitment to promoting safety among its young drivers.

2. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI): DWI, on the other hand, pertains to individuals of legal drinking age (21 and older) who are operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level that exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%. The term “intoxicated” extends beyond alcohol to include the influence of drugs, controlled substances, or any other impairing substances. Texas law takes a firm stance against impaired driving to safeguard the well-being of its citizens. Additionally, DWI can also be charged if a driver’s physical or mental faculties are impaired due to alcohol or drugs, regardless of BAC level.

II. Legal Distinctions and Penalties:

  • Age Distinction: One of the fundamental differences between DUI and DWI in Texas lies in the age of the driver. DUI applies exclusively to minors, regardless of the substance that led to impairment. On the other hand, DWI addresses adults who are found to be operating a vehicle with a BAC level exceeding the legal limit.
  • BAC Threshold: The legal BAC threshold for DWI in Texas is set at 0.08%, serving as a standardized measure of impairment. This level of alcohol concentration is deemed unsafe for operating a vehicle and is subject to severe penalties upon conviction. For DUI cases involving minors, any traceable amount of alcohol in the system is grounds for legal action.
  • Penalties for DUI: Individuals convicted of DUI in Texas can face penalties such as license suspension, mandatory participation in alcohol education programs, fines, and even community service. These consequences underscore the state’s commitment to curbing underage drinking and promoting responsible behavior among young drivers.
  • Penalties for DWI: DWI convictions in Texas carry more severe penalties, including license suspension, hefty fines, mandatory attendance at alcohol education programs, probation, ignition interlock device installation, and even imprisonment. The severity of the penalties reflects the potential danger that drunk drivers pose on the road.

III. Navigating the Legal Landscape:

1. Legal Defenses: Whether facing a DUI or DWI charge, individuals have the right to mount a strong legal defense. Consultation with an experienced attorney is crucial for exploring potential defenses, such as challenging the validity of sobriety tests, questioning the accuracy of BAC measurements, or highlighting procedural errors during the arrest process.

2. Expungement and Record Sealing: Texas law offers provisions for expunging or sealing DUI and DWI records under specific circumstances. While expungement erases the record, sealing restricts access to it. Eligibility criteria for these options vary, and seeking legal counsel is advisable to determine whether one qualifies.

Key Takeaway:

While the terms DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, it’s essential to recognize the differences in their legal definitions and implications in Texas. Distinguishing between DUI and DWI can have a profound impact on the outcome of legal proceedings. As a prominent Houston DUI attorney, Edward Chernoff is dedicated to guiding clients across Texas through these complexities. Whether it’s a minor facing a DUI charge or an adult grappling with a DWI accusation, Ed Chernoff is available to provide unwavering support, expert counsel, and diligent representation. With a deep understanding of the law and a commitment to justice, he stands ready to champion your rights and interests in the face of adversity.

Contact Chernoff Law Today for a Free Consultation About Your DWI Charge

When facing the complexities of DUI and DWI cases in Texas, having a steadfast legal partner by your side can make all the difference. Edward Chernoff of Chernoff Law understands the nuances of Texas law and the distinct differences between DUI and DWI. He navigates the intricate legal landscape with precision, leaving no stone unturned in crafting a robust defense strategy tailored to your unique situation.

Whether you’re a minor facing a DUI charge or an adult grappling with a DWI accusation, Ed Chernoff stands ready to provide unwavering support. At Chernoff Law, our mission is not only to secure favorable outcomes but also to empower you with knowledge and confidence throughout the legal process. Don’t let a DUI or DWI charge define your future. Reach out to us today, and let’s embark on a journey to safeguard your rights, protect your reputation, and navigate the path together.

Reviews Matter

"Ed Chernoff is truly an amazing lawyer and person. He was able to get my felony charge DISMISSED by the Grand Jury in only 2 weeks! Thank you Mr. Chernoff for being the very best you could be and for helping so many others like me. You are a blessing."
- Reggie Kerr

"Mr. Chernoff was adamant about not having me plead guilty to my case and was able to completely wipe my record of the incident. Ed was very prompt, professional, and excellent at explaining where we were in the process and what to expect. I highly recommend him. He is an excellent lawyer."
- Jeff Stautner

"I could not have made a better decision in hiring Ed. He put my fears at ease and helped me get my case dismissed and my life back on track. I would highly recommend hiring Ed and letting him do the same for you."
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