When you’re facing fines, jail time, or any type of conviction on your record, distinguishing between the charges can make a huge difference. When it comes to terms like DUI and DWI, these are not the same and are not viewed the same in the eyes of the law.
If you’re facing charges, it might be a good idea to consult with a DUI lawyer to help you get the best outcome with your case. Check out the differences below.
What is a DUI?
Believe it or not, a DUI is typically the lesser of the two convictions. However, in some cases, a DUI may be escalated to DWI depending on whether you have prior offenses or how high your blood alcohol concentration levels are when you are tested.
In some states, like Texas, a DUI is primarily associated with minors under the age of 21 who are driving under the influence. In this case, it would be with any level of alcohol in their system, up to .08. If it exceeds that number, it becomes a DWI.
The biggest difference to note is the BAC levels, which are below .08 for a DUI charge in Texas. The penalties tend to be less severe. These are the potential penalties:
- Fines up to $500
- Mandatory alcohol class
- Up to 40 hours of community service requirements
- License suspension up to 60 days
While not all states charge DUIs only to minors under 21, this is the way the law is described in Texas. Be familiar with your state’s laws if you are outside of Texas.
What is a DWI?
In order to compare apples to apples, we will cover a DWI according to Texas law. Know that the official definition and penalties may vary from state to state, but this provides a general overview.
A DWI is considered to be more severe, because it is attributed to a higher level of impairment while driving.
In Texas, a DWI is charged for anyone who is operating machinery or vehicles when they are under intoxication. Intoxication is defined as not being in control of physical or mental faculties, or exceeding the blood alcohol content levels of .08. Officers only have to be able to prove one of these, although a BAC test is often performed to be sure.
A minor initially pulled over for a DUI may be charged with a DWI if their BAC is over .08.
The penalties are also higher for DWI charges:
- Fines up to $2,000
- Jail sentence up to 6 months
- License suspension up to 1 year
- Alcohol treatment program attendance
Don’t Face the Fight Alone for DUI or DWI Charges
Whether you’re facing a first offense, third offense, or any type of DUI and DWI charges, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer. A DUI lawyer will be able to help you navigate the court processes and potentially reduce or dismiss a conviction. It’s best to have help on your side.