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The Difference Between A DUI and A DWI Under Texas Law

People often confuse the definitions of driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI), and use them interchangeably. Texas law, however, clearly distinguishes between the two terms. Being found guilty of either charge will result in serious penalties that could include jail time, but the question always arises, what is the difference between a dui and a dwi in Texas? If you’ve been arrested for a DUI or DWI, you’ll need to hire a competent attorney. The following will help to clarify the difference between the two for you and outline what your first steps should be if you are charged with one of them.

The Definition Of A DWI In Texas

A DWI, under Texas law, is an offense where a person has operated a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. The law is very clear about what constitutes being in the state of intoxication too. To be in violation of the law, it’s necessary to have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater, or not having what would be considered normal mental or physical faculties as a result of the use of alcohol, a controlled substance, or an illegal drug.

The Definition Of A DUI In Texas

While the law is very clear about what qualifies as a DWI, it is quite ambivalent about what qualifies as a DUI. A person can be charged for driving under the influence regardless of if his blood alcohol concentration falls beneath the 0.08 percent threshold, as long as that individual is a minor and has consumed any amount of alcohol, a controlled substance, or illegal drugs. Under Section 106.041 of the Texas Penal Code, all that is required to charge a minor with a DUI is for there to be a detectable amount of alcohol in their system while he operates a motor vehicle in a public place.

The Different Penalties For Convictions For DUI and DWI

A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties faced for a DWI are decidedly more severe. Most people face either a Class B or a Class A misdemeanor charge. The deciding factor that determines which charge is filed is whether or not it the accused had a blood alcohol level of 0.15 percent or higher. If intoxication was the cause of bodily harm to another person, the charges can be elevated to either a second or third-degree felony. A felony charge can carry a prison sentence of 2 to 10 years, as well as fines up to $10,000.

First Steps After Being Arrested For Either DUI or DWI

You’ll need an attorney regardless for which crime you are charged with. Without an attorney, you’ll face greater penalties than otherwise. Some common questions that an attorney can answer for you after you’ve been arrested includes:

  • Do you have to submit to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer? What if you refused the breathalyzer?
  • Can you plead not guilty?
  • Can you be convicted even if your blood alcohol level was below 0.08?
  • Can using marijuana result in a DUI/DWI conviction?
  • What is the difference between the two charges?
  • What if your Miranda rights were not read to you?
  • Do you have the right to self-representation in court?
  • How much will it cost you to hire an attorney?
  • What penalties could you be facing?

How An Attorney Specializing In DUI/DWI Can Help You

Being charged with either a DUI or DWI is a very frightening experience. You’re likely to be concerned about what’s going to happen next. A DUI/DWI attorney can help you to improve the likelihood of resolving the charges against you with the most favorable results.  Make sure you seek legal counsel immediately after your altercation to secure your future and your well being.

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