You’ve probably seen the terms DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence) used somewhat interchangeably in news stories. But why do we have two terms for the crime of drunk driving in Texas? Do they really mean the same thing, or is one worse than the other?
The difference, in Texas, is primarily a matter of age. If you are pulled over for drinking and driving and you are 21 or older, you will likely be charged with DWI if you are either mentally impaired or have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher.
If you are under the age of 21 and have any amount of alcohol in your system after being pulled over, you may be charged with DUI, even if you are not impaired. This is because Texas is a zero-tolerance state for alcohol use by people under the age of 21.
But just because you’re under 21 does not mean you cannot be charged with DWI instead of DUI. It will usually be up to the arresting officer what charges you will end up facing.
Another difference between DWI and DUI is that often, the penalties for DWI are harsher. Both charges will result in the suspension of your license, but the suspension periods are much shorter for DUI charges. The fines for DUI tend to be cheaper, and the potential for jail time is lessened.
If you have been charged with DUI or DWI in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, our law firm is prepared to assist you in having your charges and penalties reduced or dismissed.