Difference between a DUI and a DWI in Texas
What is a DUI in Texas?
A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is classified as a class “C” misdemeanor. This means that you can not receive jail time and a maximum fine of $500.00. (for a first offense, for subsequent offenses you can receive significant jail time). However, along with this fine can be probation, along with community service and alcohol awareness classes. Likewise, the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a notice of suspension and try to suspend the minors drivers license in the majority of these cases. This license suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in adult cases.
In summary, a person under 21 is not allowed to drink any alcohol and then drive a car. If an officer testifies that he/she smelled an alcoholic beverage on a minors breath during a traffic stop then the minor will be cited for DUI. Again, this is true even if the officer feels the minor is both below the .08 legal limit and has not lost the normal use of his/her mental facilities, but has consumed “some or any” alcohol. If a minor’s case is mishandled it can have terrible long-term effects on the minors criminal record and lengthy drivers license suspensions. It is therefore very important that these cases are taken seriously.
What is a DWI In Texas?
Alcohol and drug-related traffic offenses, commonly known as driving while intoxicated (DWI), are frequently prosecuted criminal offenses, and also carry with them administrative penalties. If the alcohol concentration in a person’s blood, breath, or urine is .08 percent or greater, the person is considered intoxicated by law. Under some circumstances, the legal definition of intoxication is met even if a person’s alcohol concentration is lower than .08 percent. Having alcohol, a drug, or a controlled substance in one’s body that causes loss of normal use of mental or physical faculties also is considered intoxication. If the person is operating a vehicle, vessel, or even water skis in a public place, he or she is considered to be driving while intoxicated, which is a Class B misdemeanor. Boating or operating an aircraft while intoxicated also are crimes.
The minimum amount of jail time for driving while intoxicated is 72 hours, unless there is an open container of alcohol in the person’s possession, in which case the jail time is at least six days. Consuming any amount of alcohol while operating a motor vehicle also is an offense.
In addition to jail time, a person who is convicted of DWI the first time will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 90 days to one year. Even if there is no conviction, the positive results of a blood, breath, or urine test will result in automatic suspension of the person’s driver’s license. The person also may be required to complete an educational program for people who have operated motor vehicles while intoxicated. A person who fails to complete such a program when sentenced to do so may lose his or her license. A subsequent DWI conviction will result in driver’s license suspension for another 18 months. In order to get the license back after the suspension period is over, the person must pay $100.
Refusing to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test in Texas also carries severe penalties. If an officer has reason to believe that a person is driving while intoxicated, and the driver refuses to submit to a test, the person’s driver’s license will be automatically suspended for a minimum of 90 days if the person is 21 years of age or older, and for at least one year if the person is under 21. The period of license suspension increases with every subsequent test that shows an alcohol concentration, and with each time a person refuses to submit to alcohol testing. For example, if a person refuses to be tested for intoxication and there has been an alcohol- or drug-related conviction or license suspension within the previous five years, the person will lose his or her license automatically for one year. Under any circumstances, however, the person is entitled to a hearing.