Many drivers in Texas use the terms driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) interchangeably. In some states, the terms refer to the same crime. However, in the state of Texas, DUI and DWI refer to different crimes.
In Texas, a person may face a DUI charge if an officer finds any trace of impairing agents in their blood. The amount of alcohol does not have to measure beyond the .08 legal limit. Minors with alcohol in their system receive a DUI charge.
The definition of DWIs in Texas includes operating a vehicle with impaired mental or physical faculties. In many cases, drivers may face a DWI charge if their blood alcohol measures .08 or higher. However, if an officer can prove you were operating a vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a loss of mental or physical control, you may still face a DWI regardless of your DWI. Using illegal drugs while driving also allows a court to convict you of a DWI.
Difference in penalties
If a court convicts you of a DUI in Texas, you face the following penalties:
- Misdemeanor Class C charge
- License suspension up to 60 days
- Alcohol awareness classes
- 40 hours of community service
- $500 fine
If you receive a conviction of a DWI, the penalties may involve more severe actions. These include:
- Misdemeanor Class A charge
- Felony charge if another person ends up injured
- Elevated charges depending on whether it is your first, second or third offense
- Licenses suspension of 90 days to one year
- Loss of professional licenses
- Child custody interference
- Job and housing difficulties
Both DUI and DWI charges may impact the rest of your life. Choosing to never drink or drive allows you to avoid either type of charge. It also keeps you and other drivers safe.