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Why does Texas have both DWI and DUI charges?

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In the vast realm of legal terminology, few acronyms are as familiar as DWI and DUI. These terms, often used interchangeably, refer to two distinct offenses related to impaired driving.

These two terms often leave people puzzled due to their similar nature. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand the nuances between these charges to help navigate the legal landscape successfully.

Having both charges enables the distinction between minors from adult drivers

On the one hand, DWI, an acronym for Driving While Intoxicated, is a charge reserved for individuals found operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.08%. This limit is consistent across most states in the U.S., but Texas law enforces it rigorously.

On the other hand, DUI, which stands for Driving Under the Influence, is a charge that might seem synonymous with DWI at first glance. However, there’s a notable distinction. In the Lone Star state, DUI is typically applied to minors (individuals under the legal drinking age of 21) caught driving with any trace of alcohol in their system. Unlike DWI, which focuses on BAC levels, DUI emphasizes the zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving.

Penalties for minors differ significantly from those for adult drivers

A DWI conviction may lead to severe penalties, including hefty fines, suspension of driving privileges, mandatory alcohol education programs and even incarceration. The penalties for DUI are no less stringent, aiming to discourage underage individuals from engaging in risky behavior. However, they can be less severe if a person is younger than 17 and in the Juvenile Courts.

Factors that influence whether an individual is charged with DWI or DUI:

  • BAC levels
  • Age

It’s imperative to understand that both charges carry significant consequences; therefore, investing in DWI/DUI defense is crucial if you get charged.

Understanding the coexistence of DUI and DWI charges in Texas is crucial for every motorist. While the terms may appear interchangeable, their definitions and implications are distinct. Therefore, navigating the complex legal terrain of DWI and DUI charges necessitates professional guidance.

Ramos & Del Cueto, can provide experienced and dedicated assistance if you find yourself in need of help. Call 210-761-6004 or use the form below to contact our firm immediately.