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Difference Between DUI and DWI

Knowing the difference.

There are many misconceptions about driving under the influence. One of the biggest problems with these charges are the variety of terms used to describe them. Knowing the difference between DUI and DWI, OUI, OWI, DUII, or DWUI is important and necessary when entering an intoxication court.

The criminal offense of intoxicated driving goes by a variety of names, including:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI)
  • Operating under the influence (OUI)
  • Operating while intoxicated (OWI)
  • Driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII)
  • Driving while under the influence (DWUI)

Fold Out Car KeysOUI, OWI, DUII, and DWUI can sometimes be viewed as variations on a similar charge. In Texas, there is a clear demarcation between driving under the influence and driving while intoxicated. While the end result could be the same dangerous outcome. The particulars of each charge can lead to very different rulings in court.

Driving While Intoxicated

“DWIs are handed out to adults who are found to be legally intoxicated.”

This is a very specific definition, as legal intoxication is not just a random number. This means anyone who has a .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) is legally drunk. Therefore, if they are found to operate a vehicle with this BAC, they are considered unsafe and are charged with a DWI.It’s important to make a legal distinction for what qualifies as a dangerous BAC. This assists the law in declaring if a person has the sufficient faculties to operate machinery/vehicles properly. When in a court debating a DWI charge, it must be established that a person had sufficient mental and/of physical capacities when behind the wheel of their vehicle. If it was below this limit, a ruling can be rendered which will absolve those accused of a sufficiently intoxicated label. If above, it could affect the final ruling tremendously.

Teenage Boy Taking Mugshot for DUI Charge

Driving Under the Influence

DUIs have a similar ruling when compared to DWIs. Those assigned with a DUI are also found to have blood alcohol content in excess of .08. This also means anyone who has exceeded this limit is charged with being of unsafe capacities when behind the wheel of a vehicle. When in court, these charges are the ones which are contested by a DUI attorney.

The difference here is the age of the accused.

“In Texas, DWIs only apply to adults. DUIs, according to state law, are assigned to people under the legal drinking limit.”

Therefore, if the accused is under 21 and found to have a BAC higher than the legal limit, they are given a DUI charge. This specifically tells those involved in a drunk driving case that those accused is not of age to consume.


When faced with a DUI or DWI in Texas, it is generally preferable to have a DUI. Both will have extenuating circumstances which could result in significant punishment. However, Driving Under the Influence and its most maximum penalty is less harsh than being charged with Driving While Intoxicated.

Small Pile of Money with A Roll of Bills

Those accused with a DUI are classified as a Class C Misdemeanor in Texas.

Class C often does not carry jail time, unlike other crimes classified as misdemeanors. It could carry hefty penalties, in the form of a $500 fine along with suspension of the accused’s driver’s license. Along with these charges, the accused might be required to conduct community service and take a course for alcohol awareness.For DWI, the penalties could be much harsher. Additionally, the penalties that befall someone who is charged with Driving While Intoxicated can change depending on the circumstances. In Texas, a DWI is very serious, which is why such a serious effort is placed upon law enforcement to find those who are intoxicated.

A person found Driving While Intoxicated is committing a Class B Misdemeanor.

This is a more serious charge which could result in a small amount of prison time. Some cases end up charging someone with a DWI to spend three days in confinement. If someone is found to be Driving While Intoxicated with an Open Container, the confinement term could be a minimum of six days.

Upset Man in Solitary Confinement

Compared to DUI, these charges may seem tame. It must be of note that some Class B cases are known to assign up to 180 days in jail, along with a fine of $2,000. The punishment assigned by the presiding body is up to their discretion so long as it is within the limits of the law.

Driving While Intoxicated with a Child Passenger could receive a state jail penalty.

Compared to other felonies, state jail felonies are the lightest.This is still the most serious charge that can be lobbied at a person accused of DWI with a Child. This could bring up to 2 years in jail, along with a fine of up to $10,000.

How to Beat a DWI or DUI

DWIs and DUIs are very harsh allegations. This doesn’t mean you have to be punished for allegations which could prove faulty.

Through education and the proper representation, the possible fines and jail time could be a distant memory.

The ultimate goal for a court is to prove you were unable to drive safely while under the influence of alcohol or even narcotics. A proper defense will examine every facet of the road leading up to your court date.Officers of the law are required to follow a set of rules to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you were unsafe to drive. If these rules were not followed precisely, there could be an issue down the road.

No matter what the charge is called, you have inalienable rights set before you. If those rights have been violated in any way because of a charge that is brought against you, you are not the one to blame. The Law Office of Ramos & Del Cueto, P.L.L.C. want to make sure your rights are upheld within the entire process. While you may have many questions about DWIs and DUIs, you should never have a question about your rights.Call 210-212-9000 or e-mail us now for a free consultation.

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