DUI vs. DWI: What’s the Difference?

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DUI vs. DWI: What’s the Difference?

Have you recently received a DUI or a DWI? Did you know that in Texas, there is a big difference between the two? Here’s the difference between a DUI vs. DWI.

Many Texans think driving under the influence (DUI) is the same as driving while intoxicated (DWI).

It is true Texas law regards both DUI vs. DWI as misdemeanors, but Texas law defines each with different criteria.

The differences between a DUI vs. a DWI make a difference in your legal consequences and your ability to legally drive. Generally, a DUI is for minors and a DWI is for intoxicated drivers, regardless of age. Let’s look at what these differences are and how they impact your legal defense.

DUI in Texas

A DUI refers to driving after consuming any amount of alcohol, if you are a minor (under the age of 21). So, even if you are not impaired, and there is no measurable amount of alcohol in your system, if you admit to a sip of alcohol, while driving, and are under 21 years of age, you could be convicted of DUI. It is not necessary to be intoxicated nor impaired to get a DUI. However, a minor driver who is intoxicated may be charged with DWI, as well.

A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor (same level as a traffic ticket) with special conditions of punishment.

DUI Range of Legal Consequences

The range of legal consequences for your first DUI is:

  • A DUI is a Class C misdemeanor which is the equivalent of a traffic ticket.
  • The court can give the driver special conditions of punishment. These special conditions can include substance abuse classes and community service.
  • The court can also suspend your license for 60 days on your first DUI arrest.
  • Fine and Court Costs

Why You Need an Experienced DUI Attorney

If you have a DUI criminal charge pending against you, don’t to hire a DUI defense attorney. Experienced DUI lawyers generally handle DUI cases for a relatively small fee, while often preventing the license suspension and a permanent criminal history. So, there’s not a good reason to wait to consult a good DUI lawyer.

There are several defenses a skilled attorney can use to help fight a DUI conviction. Often, we can argue things like:

  • Sometimes emotional distress or mental condition, such as autism, is difficult to distinguish from mild intoxication.
  • A person may be on prescription drugs which contributed to their driving behavior.
  • Forensic testing may not detect the alcohol.
  • Admissions by a minor driver may not be admissible in court.

These legal arguments when fighting a DUI charge may be enough to dismiss the case against you. But, when we can’t get a DUI dismissed, they still provide extenuating circumstances to mitigate your DUI punishment range. Really, though, because DUIs are expensive to prosecute against an experienced lawyer, you just have a higher chance that the prosecutors will let your case go.

What’s more, if you go to court as a DUI criminal defendant without an experienced attorney, there is no way to fight some of Texas’s extensive DUI costs.

DUI costs may be more money than you imagine. Texas can assess you;

  • Mandatory DUI alcohol or substance abuse classes and treatment programs.
  • Vehicle impound fees.
  • Can mandate you get an Ignition Interlock Device on your car.
  • fine and Court Costs

DWI in Texas

A DWI refers to a charge made against any driver, minor or adult, who is impaired or has a BAC > 0.08.

A DWI is a Class B misdemeanor and has its own set of legal repercussions and punishments which we go over below.

DWI Range of Legal Consequences

The range of legal consequences for your first DWI with a BAC between 0.08 and 0.15 is:

  • Texas DPS surcharges of $3,000, plus a $125 reinstate fee.
  • A DWI carries a punishment of up to a $2,000 fine.
  • 3-180 days in jail as a Class B misdemeanor, or up to 2 years of probation.

The range of legal consequences for a DWI if the BAC is of 0.15 or higher is:

  • Penalties go up to a max $4,000 fine.
  • 0 days to 1 year in jail, or up to two years of probation.
  • Court mandated in-patient rehab.
  • Suspension of your license for DWI conviction.
  • Up $4,500 in Texas DPS surcharges, plus a $125 reinstatement fee.
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle you drive.

Why You Need an Experienced DWI Attorney

If you have a DWI criminal charge pending against you, do not hesitate to hire an experienced and effective criminal defense attorney.

DWI defense lawyers in Texas can argue special circumstances in your criminal defense.

To mitigate your DWI criminal case with the most effective results, the earlier you get a criminal defense attorney, the better.

A criminal defense attorney with extensive experience and knowledge can sometimes have your case dismissed.

Also, a good criminal defense attorney will almost always get your case the most favorable results possible.

DWI vs DUI Legal Unknowns

Texas law differentiates the legal repercussions for DUI vs. DWI. The criteria and punishment levels for each are important to know.

These differences become very important to understand if you are facing a DUI or DWI criminal charge.

You need a lawyer who will represent you by learning all the facts of your case. It is the facts of your case which can make a difference. It is mitigating the facts of your case which can give you the best legal result.

Many of us don’t like to think there are true unknowns every time we become part of the criminal justice system. Yet any time you are a criminal defendant you may face legal unknowns. On any day of the week, a judge can adjudicate similar cases differently. There are even more significant unknowns in criminal repercussions if you are a second, third or, fourth DWI or DUI criminal defendant.

We commit ourselves to reducing legal unknowns. We can do this by representing you in the criminal justice system.

Our legal team has extensive experience and stellar criminal defense skills. There is no substitute for expert knowledge when defending a DUI or DWI criminal defendant.

Our legal focus is on making a positive difference and ensuring that you get the best possible result in your criminal cases.

DUI vs. DWI Next Steps

Now that you know the difference between DUI vs. DWI, the question is what you can do when you’re facing one of these charges.  If you are facing a DUI or a DWI, you need to start interviewing experienced attorneys.

Not all criminal justice lawyers know intoxication laws as actual DWI lawyers. You want to ask about each lawyer’s experience handling intoxication cases, including their jury trial experience, and their experience in your specific court. You may also ask about the percentage of DUI and DWI cases they handle in their practice and what DWI-specific training they receive each year.

At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda PLLC, we will answer all of those questions and explain each step as you go through the criminal justice process. In fact, not only are we experienced DWI lawyers, our Managing Attorney, Joe Hoelscher, has literally written the book on Texas Drunk Driving Law.

The best way to protect yourself is to have a smart, pro-active, caring attorney. You need more than a skilled criminal defense attorney, you need an experienced DWI attorney who will fight for you every step of the way.

Please call us today so we can fight your DUI or DWI charge together.