Many people think DWI and DUI are interchangeable, but, in Texas, these two terms are different and carry different penalties.
In the broadest sense, DUI and DWI both refer to an individual operating a vehicle while under the influence. DUI is short for “driving under the influence” while DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated.” Where they differ is who can be charged with each and what happens when a person is convicted.
What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Texas?
In Texas, drivers who are determined to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs to the point that they lack the normal mental and physical faculties necessary to operate a vehicle safely are charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
Normally, we think of alcohol when we hear the word intoxication. In Texas, however, driving while intoxicated covers alcohol, illicit drugs, narcotics, and even prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Any substance that affects a person’s ability to safely drive can result in a DWI charge.
So, that may leave you wondering: What is DUI?
In Texas, DUI, or driving under the influence, is applied to any driver under the age of 21 who is determined to have any alcohol in his or her system. This is the only legal use of “DUI” in Texas and exists on a Zero Tolerance Policy.
This does not mean that a person under 21 cannot still be charged with DWI, though. For example, if a 19-year-old has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above the legal limit, they will be charged with DWI. The same is true if they are found to be driving under the influence of drugs.
Is It Worse to Be Charged with DWI or DUI in Texas?
Both DWI and DUI are serious charges, and neither should be taken lightly.
With that, DUI exists under the Texas Traffic Code and only applies to minors. DWI is a criminal charge under the Texas Penal Code. This means DWI is a more serious offense. Also, DWI typically results in heavier fines, longer jail sentences, and even prison.
When Can a Person Be Charged with DWI?
Driving while intoxicated is often contested by the suspected drunk driver. When determining whether a driver was intoxicated, one of the following must be proved:
- The diver lost normal use of mental faculties
- The driver lost normal use of physical faculties
- The driver had a blood alcohol concentration .08 or greater
- Commercial drivers, such as truck drivers, have a BAC limit of .04
I Was Injured in a Crash with a Drunk Driver, What Are My Options?
If you were injured in a crash with a suspected drunk driver, call a Dallas car accident attorney at Thomas J. Henry Law.
For nearly 30 years, our law firm has represented injured clients across Texas in drunk driving accident cases. We have successfully secured favorable verdicts and settlements for our clients, helping them secure the compensation needed to pay for medical treatment and secure their financial future.
We are available 24/7, nights and weekends to assist you with your case. If you are unable to travel to one of our offices, we can send an attorney directly to you. Call now.