What is the Difference between DWI and DUI in Texas?
In Texas, DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated (1st), is a crime that can carry with it up to 180 days in jail, and up to a $2,000 fine. DWI carries with it a harsher punishment and penalties than DUI. In order for the state to convict someone of DWI, they must prove that the driver of a motor vehicle either had above a .08 BAC, or lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of the two. You can receive a DWI at any age (above or below 21). With each conviction, the punishment & ramifications of a conviction go up.
In Texas, DUI, or Driving Under the Influence is a crime that can only be committed by a minor under 21. The controlling statute is the Alcohol Beverage Code § 106.041. In order for the state to prove that you are Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, the state must prove you were a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. BUT, if the police believe that you are above a .08 BAC, or you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties, you may end up getting arrested for DWI, the more serious of the two crimes.
I have created the chart below to help explain the differences. No matter which crime you are charged with, DWI or DUI, the ramifications can be extraordinary. This is especially true for what can happen outside of the punishment ranges. Drivers License suspensions, future loans or employers, may see your record, and future criminal proceedings may be enhanced.
||Under 21 or Over 21
||DUI Under 21
||Class "B" Misdemeanor
||Class "C" Misdemeanor
||72 hours – 180 days Jail, Up to $2000 fine
||Up to $500 fine
||JP or Municipal Court
||DWI Class, Victim Impact Panel, Drivers’ Risk Inventory, 24-80 Hours Community Service, No Consumption of Alcohol
||Alcohol Awareness Program, 20-40 Hrs. Community Service, No Consumption of Alcohol
||.08 or higher BAC
Not Having Normal Use of Mental or Physical Faculties
|Any detectable amount of alcohol (while driving)