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Although many people believe the terms DWI and DUI are interchangeable, in the state of Texas, the terms apply to people of different age groups, and the legal consequences of each offense are very different. DWI is the term used for driving while intoxicated—operating a motor vehicle in a public place while you are lacking normal mental or physical faculties due to ingestion of alcohol, a controlled substance, or by having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent. A first-time DWI is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, although if your BAC is over 0.15 percent, the charges can be increased to a Class A misdemeanor. If controlled substances are involved, you could face drug charges in addition to DWI in Texas charges.
A DUI in Texas refers to driving under the influence, but the primary difference between DUI and DWI in Texas is age. If a minor, under the age of 21, is operating a motor vehicle in a public place with any detectable level of alcohol in his or her system, the minor could be charged with a DUI in Texas, which is a Class C misdemeanor. That being said, a minor with a high BAC (since Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for minors driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol) could be charged with a DWI rather than a DUI. While the specifics of the case will be taken into account, a minor charged with a DUI could later have that DUI expunged from his or her record.
Penalties for a First-Time DWI vs. Penalties for a DUI in Texas - If you are charged with a DWI, you may be required to spend a minimum of 72 hours in jail (if you have an open container in the vehicle, you could spend a minimum of six days in jail, and in either case, a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. As a first-time DWI offender, there will be a driver’s license suspension which lasts between 90 days and one year. Even if you are not convicted of the DWI, you will still have an automatic suspension of your driver’s license if you test at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent. You will face fines as large as $2,000, and may pay an annual surcharge of $1,000-$2,000 for three years in order to keep your driver’s license. You may be sentenced to DWI probation, and may have to attend mandatory DWI classes or programs.
DUI penalties are usually lighter than DWI penalties, since the offender is younger, however the penalties can still be serious. While a first-time DUI offender will not spend time in jail, a repeat DUI offender could be sentenced to jail time. A minor charged with DUI in Texas could have his or her driver’s license suspended for 60 days. The minor charged with DUI in Texas could be required to complete a program addressing the behaviors that led to the DUI charges, and may have to complete 20-40 hours of community service and pay a fine as large as $500. A driver’s license suspension of up to 60 days could occur for a DUI in Texas as well as mandatory alcohol awareness classes.
Serious Consequences Associated with DWI in Texas or DUI in Texas - Although there are significant differences between a DWI in Texas or a DUI in Texas, both have serious consequences. If you have been charged with either offense, it is important to act quickly to minimize the penalties you will face from your charges. Keeping your freedom and escaping the harshest penalties possible are much more likely with an experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI attorney by your side. Whether you are charged with a DUI in Texas or a DWI in Texas, you need a knowledgeable Houston DWI attorney—facing the penalties for either of these Texas offenses without an attorney can leave you facing penalties which are significantly more severe than they might otherwise be.
Questions You Could Have Following a DUI or DWI in Texas - At the Houston DWI Law Firm of Sullo & Sullo, we understand that you may have many questions following your DUI or DWI in Texas arrest. You may or may not have agreed to a chemical test, such as a breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test. You may or may not have agreed to field sobriety tests. You may now wonder whether agreeing or refusing will have an impact on the eventual outcome of your DUI in Texas or DWI in Texas. Perhaps you agreed to a chemical test and your BAC was less than the legal limit of 0.08 percent.
Your question may be whether you can be convicted of DWI in Texas with a BAC lower than the state legal limit. Or, in the case of a DUI, you may wonder whether any detectable level of alcohol can end up in a conviction. You may want to know about the potential penalties you are facing, and whether the arresting officer made mistakes which could affect the outcome of your case. We can answer all these questions and more.
We understand that your greatest fear may be spending time in Harris County jail, or the Harris County criminal record you could have to deal with for many years to come. The goal of a Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI attorney is to ensure you face the least number of adverse consequences possible from your DUI in Texas or DWI in Texas charges. We want you to be able to face your future as unencumbered as possible, and will work zealously to that end. It is in your best interests to contact an experienced Sullo & Sullo Houston DWI lawyer to determine your best course of action. We will be by your side every step of the way, working to protect your rights and your future.