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Is there a difference between a DUI and DWI?

Aug 11, 2020 | Criminal Defense

Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are two terms that may seem interchangeable, but in some states, there are important differences.

What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI?

The answer depends on the state. In many states, there really is not a difference. However, in Texas, the two terms are different. In the Lone Star State a minor that has any alcohol at all in their system can be charged with a DUI. In contrast, an adult who appears visibly impaired or who has a BAC over 0.08 faces DWI charges.

The distinction serves an important lesson: the words used matter. When putting together a defense to criminal charges, it is important to understand the charges. A single word can mean a difference in the charges, potentially leading to the need to pursue a different criminal defense strategy.

What types of penalties are common with these offenses?

The particulars of the penalties will vary with the details of the situation, but in most cases, those charged with a DWI in Texas face up to $2,000 in fines and 180 days in jail for a first offense. A second offense doubles the fine to $4,000 and can result in up to one-year imprisonment while a third offense can result in a $10,000 fine and 10 years in prison. The penalties can increase if there is a minor present in the vehicle at the time of the alleged offense or if the offenses occur within a span of five years.