Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are serious offenses in San Antonio, Texas. Both refer to an individual operating a vehicle who has introduced alcohol into their system. But in Texas, these are two distinct crimes and the differences are important to understand to ensure your rights are protected. In the following article we will provide insight into DUI vs. DWI in Texas.
In Texas law, a DUI stems from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and applies only to minors. If an individual under the legal drinking age of 21 is found to have any alcohol in their system while driving, they could face a DUI. This is often the case in San Antonio, which abides by Texas’ Zero Tolerance Law for minors and alcohol. In addition, a DUI is strictly an alcohol-related offense whereas a DWI can be issued for driving incidents caused by alcohol, drugs or other mind-altering substances. A minor can still be charged with a DWI if their blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or greater or if they are found to be intoxicated by drugs while driving.
DUI vs. DWI Texas Penal Code
A DWI is handled under Texas Penal Code and applies when an individual is found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated, meaning they have lost mental or physical control of their faculties due to alcohol or drugs. In order for a DWI to be charged, a BAC of .08% or greater must be established, or other evidence must be shown proving the loss of normal use of mental or physical faculties. A number of factors—including gender, weight, and the amount of alcohol ingested—affect this percentage, so it is different for everyone. But it is always best not to get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking.
DUI vs. DWI Penalties
Perhaps the most important differences concerning DUI vs. DWI are the penalties. For a DUI, the first offense will mean 20-40 hours of community service, an Alcohol Education Program, license suspension for 60 days, and up to a $500 fine. The severity of the penalties increases with each offense and can include jail time. Conversely, a DWI offender could face up to 180 days in jail, even if it is their first offense, which is a Class B misdemeanor. They could also have to pay up to a $2,000 fine and have their license suspended for up to a year. A second DWI offense will mean up to a $4,000 fine, jail time up to one year, and up to a 2-year license suspension. A third DWI offense will trigger a fine up to $10,000, 2 to 10 years in prison, and license suspension up to 2 years. Each of these offenses also includes a DWI intervention program, ignition interlock devices, and an annual surcharge up to $2,000 a year for 3 years if the offender wants to keep their license. This is all in addition to court and lawyer fees. An underage driver charged with a DWI will face less severe penalties; however, they will still include fines, license suspension, and jail time.
DUI vs. DWI Your Rights in Texas
One thing that will never change in the DUI vs. DWI field is your rights. But you can’t protect them unless you know them. One right to keep in mind if you are in San Antonio and pulled over on suspicion of DWI is that you do not have to submit to a field sobriety test. These tests are not grounded in accuracy or objectivity and can result in unfair allegations. Once you realize you are being questioned about your sobriety, it is important that you ask for your lawyer. For example, you could ask for your attorneys Roland Ramos and Andrew Del Cueto to exercise your right of representation. You are not required to step out of the vehicle.
Texas Chemical Test, Implied Consent
Another important Texas law that applies to both DUIs and DWIs is the requirement to take a chemical test that measures your BAC if a law enforcement officer suspects you are impaired due to alcohol or drugs. Under the Texas policy of implied consent, you agreed to take this test when you got your license. You can, however, refuse to take the chemical test, but your license could be suspended for 180 days if you do, whether you are a minor or an adult. A second refusal could carry a license suspension of up to 2 years. If you take the test and fail, your suspension will only be 90 days for adults and 60 days for a minor. In either case, you will be issued a temporary permit and will have 15 days to request a hearing for your case. Eventually, a fee of $125 will be required to get your license back.
Help with DUI and DWI Charges in Texas
Regardless of the DUI vs. DWI differences, if you or someone you know has been charged with either of these offenses, you will need experienced attorneys at your side as soon as possible. Ramos & Del Cueto specialize in DUI and DWI laws and have a proven record of reducing or completely waiving these penalties in San Antonio. Bexar County has serious punishments for convictions in these cases. Ramos & Del Cueto are devoted to protecting your rights and defending your innocence. They put their extensive litigation experience to work for you and present persuasive arguments to the jury that successfully challenge the charges made against you. A DWI allegation does not have to threaten your way of life or permanently stain your record. Invoke your rights and call your trusted criminal defense attorneys, Ramos & Del Cueto.