It’s important to state that driving after consuming any amount of alcohol is dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. When it comes to differentiating between a Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) charge and a Driving While Under the Influence (DUI) charge in Texas, the difference is really in the penalty along with some other slight but important variations that need to be known.
What Is a DUI under Texas Law?
DUIs are primarily aimed at minors under the age of 21. According to Texas law, no one under the age of 21 is allowed to consume any amount of alcohol before operating a motor vehicle. A DUI is classified as a Class C misdemeanor, which means there can be no jail time for the offender and there’s a maximum fine of $500.00.
Despite the absence of jail time, a DUI can carry probation along with the suspension of a minor’s license and community service. An officer only needs to smell alcohol on the minor’s breath or find an open container within the vehicle for charges to be filed. The long-time repercussions to a minor’s driving record are critical, so these cases are treated as methodically as any other infraction.
What Is a DWI under Texas Law?
Driving while intoxicated in most cases signifies when a driver exceeds the 0.08 blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. These cases are usually tried as criminal offenses. In some instances, they don’t even require that the driver meet or exceed the 0.08 limit for someone to be charged.
If a driver’s mental capacity is in any way compromised due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol, this calls for a charge of DWI. This definition stretches to any motor vehicle, including operating water skis in a public setting, boating, or flying an aircraft.
Driving while intoxicated is a Class B misdemeanor that carries more severe penalties than the Class C DUI charge. For the first offense a minimum of 72 hours of jail time is given, and up to six days if an open container is found in the possession of the driver. The latter offense carries a $500.00 fine whether you’re the driver or passenger. An automatic 180-day suspension of the driver’s license is also mandatory with the DWI charge, and that suspension can be stretched up to one full year for first-time offenders and up to two years for second offenses. For the first offense, there can be a fine of up to $2,000 AND there’s an additional annual fee of $1,000–$2,000 to retain your driver’s license, with these fines increasing incrementally with second and third offenses.
If You’re Caught on a DWI or DUI in Texas
Regardless of the whether it’s a DUI or DWI, it’s important that if pulled over on suspicion of either, the offender must comply with a breathalyzer. Failure to comply carries its own set of penalties. For those 21 and over, it means an automatic 180-day suspension of your license. For minors under 21, this suspension is for one full year. You must also present your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance when pulled over.
Think PCS Bail Bonds
PCS Bail Bonds has seen plenty of these cases come through our door. We’ve provided bail for both DUI and DWI defendants who have been suspected of operating a vehicle under the influence. In our experience, every case is different and every outcome is based specifically on the factors surrounding the incident.
“Driving While Intoxicated,” Texas Department of Transportation web site; http://www.txdot.gov/driver/sober-safe/intoxication.html, last accessed April 29, 2016.