You may already be familiar with terms such as DUI (driving under influence) and DWI (driving with influence), but you may be surprised to know they are two different things that people often mix up. In fact, consulting a Bell County criminal defense attorney may even have you know that in Texas, these two terms have completely different meanings as well.
On a basic and general level, DUI and DWI in Texas both refer to an individual operating an individual while they are intoxicated, meaning they don’t have the normal use of their mental and physical faculties. This is often the result of the introduction of alcohol or a drug in their system.
However, the main difference between the two terms boils down to the age of the driver in question. This is where you should pay attention.
Difference Between DUI and DWI in Texas
A person operating a vehicle who is 21 years of age or older, and is legally intoxicated can be charged with a DWI. Legally intoxicated means having a .08 blood or breath alcohol concentration, or is impaired by drugs, once they are tested by the authorities.
Meanwhile, a person can be charged with DUI if they are under the age of 21. It is however important to take note that when it comes to DUIs, it is irrelevant whether the minor is impaired by the alcohol in the system. If a driver is under 21 in Texas, it is illegal to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
This is in fact related to the state’s zero-tolerance policy. Important, a person under 21 years old can still be charged with a DWI, provided and for as long as the driver has a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Another difference is the penalties imposed for the two different offenses. For a first time DWI offense, one may receive a fine up to $2,000, jail sentences from 3 to 180 days, the loss of the driver’s license up to a year, an annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for three years to retain the license.
Meanwhile, a minor charged with DUI may receive a fine up to $500, a 60-day suspension of the license, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and mandatory alcohol awareness classes.
If you have any concerns or questions about the law and how it works, feel free to give us a call and have a Bell County criminal defense attorney assist you and give you legal counsel. Always remember that it is better to know the goings on in the legal field especially in your state, as they may have different laws from other states.