The terms DUI and DWI often get mixed up, intertwined, and used interchangeably. They do, however, represent different offenses in the State of Texas. Furthermore, there are other offenses related to a DUI or DWI charge that a person may face as well. Here, we will discuss some of the different DUI and DWI offenses in Texas.
What Are DUI and DWI Offenses in Texas?
In the State of Texas, you are legally considered to be intoxicated when your blood alcohol content reaches 0.08% or your drug or alcohol consumption has impaired your driving ability. This is true for noncommercial drivers who are 21 years or older. Drivers of commercial vehicles, which includes school bus drivers in Texas, are considered to be legally intoxicated when they reach a blood alcohol content of 0.04% or greater. A person who is under the age of 21 is considered to be legally drunk when there is any detectable trace of alcohol in their system.
A DUI charge is one that applies to minors, those under the age of 21, who operate a vehicle with any trace amount of alcohol in their system. This is part of Texas’s “zero tolerance” laws relating to minors drinking and driving. It does not matter if a driver is under the standard intoxication limit of .08 BAC. If they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, they can be charged with a DUI.
A DUI charge is a violation of Texas traffic law. A DWI, on the other hand, is a violation under the Texas Penal Code and is, therefore, much more serious of an offense. A person may be charged with a DWI if he or she is operating a vehicle with a .08 BAC or higher, or is clearly operating a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol. When a drunk driving charge is based on BAC as opposed to a driver’s level of impairment, it is referred to as a “per se” DWI.
A first time DWI offender will face up to 180 days in jail, as well as a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Furthermore, the offender will have his or her licenses suspended for 90 days if convicted. These penalties increase with each subsequent DWI offense within a five year period. A first time offender who is at least 18, but not yet 21, will be fined up to $500 as well as facing 20 to 40 hours of community service work related to education about or the prevention of alcohol misuse.
Enhanced penalties for a DWI will apply in certain situations. For instance, the penalty for a DWI if there is a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle at the time the offense is committed will be 180 days to 2 years in prison as well as a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are facing a DUI or DWI charge, you are up against some significant potential penalties that can have a substantial impact on your future. Navarrete & Schwartz will help you fight your DUI or DWI charge. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.