Schedule a Consultation


DWI vs DUI Texas: What’s the Difference? 2024

You might hear the terms “DWI” and “DUI” used interchangeably in Texas, but they are not, in fact, exactly the same thing. It is important to understand the difference between these two terms, as they have different definitions and legal implications that can make all the difference if you are charged with one of them. Regardless of which one you are charged with, however, one thing is the same: you should get in contact with a lawyer right away.

DWI vs DUI Texas

DWI means driving while intoxicated, and DUI means driving under the influence and refers to operating a vehicle under the age of 21 while you have any impairing agent in your bloodstream, such as alcohol or drugs. Even prescription drugs can impair your judgment and can cause dangerous driving.

What Is a DWI in Texas?

If you drive while intoxicated in Texas, it is considered a criminal offense. The state defines the term “intoxicated” as being in an impaired state with your blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.08% or higher when you are behind the wheel. To test your BAC, the law enforcement officer who pulls you over or at the scene of any sort of accident might tell you to take a breathalyzer test. If your test comes up at 0.08% or higher, you can be arrested.

A DWI is usually considered at least a Class B misdemeanor. This means you can face thousands of dollars in fines, a lengthy license suspension, and time in jail of up to 6 months. It is important to understand that there are a lot of factors in your case that might make this punishment harsher. For instance, if you have a 0.15% or higher BAC, the DWI might be considered a Class A misdemeanor, and your jail time might increase.

If you hurt or kill someone as a result of driving a vehicle while intoxicated in Texas, you should anticipate facing felony charges. Felony charges can result in years in jail and fines of up to $10,000. You can also likely expect to not be able to drive for a long time and, in some cases, have to undergo counseling.

What Is a DUI in Texas?

If you are under the age of 21, then you are not legally allowed to ingest alcohol in Texas. This means that if you are found to be operating a vehicle with any alcohol in your system at all under the age of 21, you can be charged with a DUI.

A DUI is classified as a Class C misdemeanor in Texas, meaning that you will see a license suspension, community service, fines of a few hundred dollars, and more. The punishment can get more severe in select cases with aggravating factors, but generally, DUI cases are not as severe as DWI cases.

However, it is important to consider how the negative consequences of a DUI can have major impacts on minors and can affect their future prospects regarding college acceptances, job offers, housing, and more.


Is DUI and DWI the Same Thing in Texas?

DUI and a DWI are different things in Texas. A DUI stands for driving under the influence of any impairment agent under the age of 21. To be charged with a DWI, you must have a 0.08% or higher BAC, but to be charged with a DUI, your BAC can be lower, as it is illegal for you to consume or purchase alcohol under the age of 21.

What Are the Laws for DWI in Texas in 2024?

In Texas, it is against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. If you are found to be driving while intoxicated, and it is your first offense with no aggravating factors, you could be looking at fines of a few thousand dollars and a few years in jail. However, this punishment could be more severe if you cause damage as a result of your intoxicated state.

How Long Does a DWI Stay on Your Record in Texas?

If you have a DWI on your record in Texas, then it will stay on your record forever. If you want your record to be expunged, you should consult with a DWI lawyer to see if this is possible, given the circumstances of your case. Given that a permanent mark on your criminal record could impact your career and housing prospects, you should get in touch with a lawyer right away if you are charged with a DWI.

Do You Lose Your License For Your First DWI in Texas?

If you are charged with your first DWI, you will likely have your driver’s license suspended for anywhere between 90 days and one year. This period of time might increase if you resist taking the breathalyzer test when you are intoxicated.

What Are the Consequences of DWI in Texas?

If you drive while intoxicated in Texas, you might have to pay expensive fines and spend time in jail. There are also other penalties, like your loss of voting rights, firearms, and, in some cases, professional licensure, depending on what you do for work. In addition, if you are involved in a contested divorce or a child custody battle, your DWI might be used against you in order to support the interests of your opposing party.

Charged with a DWI or a DUI in Texas?

If you are looking at a DWI or a DUI charge, you need to get in contact with a criminal defense attorney. The right lawyer can strategically negotiate on your behalf to minimize your punishment or erase your charge.

If you are in need of a DUI or DWI lawyer in Houston, TX, Joseph Ruiz can help. Joseph has nearly twenty years of experience defending Texans in criminal cases, including DWIs or DUIs, and can consult with you about your charges. Contact us to schedule a consultation, and we can get started with your case.

Law Office of Joseph Ruiz, PLLC