We come across many misconceptions about DWI and DUI in our office every day. Many people believe that (A) DWI and DUI are the same thing, (B) that DWI only applies to alcohol and DUI only applies to drugs, and/or (C) that both adults and minors can be charged for either or both of those offenses. Sound familiar? Here’s what you should know about DWI and DUI charges in Texas.
Are DWI and DUI the same thing? No, and here’s why: DWI stands for “Driving While Intoxicated” and DUI stands for “Driving Under the Influence”. According to Texas law, if you are an adult that is intoxicated while driving a motor vehicle, you will be charged with a DWI which starts at a class B misdemeanor with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours (Texas Penal Code Section 49.04).
DUI law is found under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) rather than the Penal Code. The key difference is that DUI charges are only given to minors, defined as those under 21 years of age. According to TABC Section 106.041, “A minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.” The State does not have to prove intoxication for this offense.
Because Texas is a zero-tolerance state for minors, a minor with a BAC over 0.0 will be charged with a DUI. Consequences for a first-time DUI include a fine of up to $500 as well as community service, a license suspended, and attendance at an alcohol awareness classes.
What about drugs? In Texas, any time a person—adult or minor—drives while impaired with any drugs, prescription or illicit, they will be charged with a DWI. Even prescription drugs like Xanax, Vicodin, and Ambien may cause symptoms like drowsiness or dizziness that affect motor skills. If you are pulled over and deemed intoxicated, you will be charged with a DWI.
If you have been charged with DWI or DUI in Williamson County, call the Law Office of Price & Wiggins, P.C., so that we can review your case.
This blog was authored by Brooke Price.