DWI Vs DUI: What's the Difference? - James Fletcher Law

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1.7 percent of drivers in the United States report driving after drinking too much. In Texas, that percentage climbs to 2.2 percent.

For individuals dealing with impairments charges, it can be confusing to find out what to do and what their rights are. If you’ve been charged with a DWI in Austin, a DUI attorney can help. Let’s start by defining DWI vs. DUI.  

Defining DWI vs. DUI in Austin 

If you or someone you know has been charged with drunk driving in Texas, it’s imperative to understand the charge. In this section, we’ll go over the state’s laws and penalties. So, what’s the difference between a DWI and DUI?

A DWI, which stands for driving while intoxicated, does not exclusively refer to alcohol. Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04, intoxication while driving means the driver does not have the proper mental or physical faculties to operate a vehicle safely. Intoxication can come from alcohol, controlled substances, drugs, or a combination of substances. 

A person can also be charged with a DWI if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher–which is the legal limit. With a 0.08 percent BAC, a person who is 21 or older can be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor is possible with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. 

DUI stands for driving under the influence. In Texas, DUI applies only to minors under the age of 21 who operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their systems. The state does not have to prove intoxication when a minor is involved. It only needs to prove that there was a detectable amount of alcohol in the minor. 

As far as penalties go, a DUI charge is a Class C misdemeanor. However, a DUI charge can be elevated to a DWI charge if illegal drugs are found. 

What Does a DWI Attorney Do?

When someone has been charged with a DWI, they must understand their legal rights and options. A criminal defense attorney can help. 

As a case progresses through the system, a DWI lawyer will advise their client on their best interests. They will also handle speaking with insurance companies, so you’re not tricked into admitting fault. 

DUI cases are complex and have strict deadlines. Failing to meet those time restrictions or submitting inaccurate paperwork will do nothing but hurt your case. With a lawyer by your side, you could have your charge lessened or even expunged. 

It’s important to note that DWI cases can result in jail time, loss of driving privileges, significant fines, and other penalties if you choose to forgo legal representation. 

Learn About Your Rights Today 

Now that you know the difference between DWI vs. DUI, you’ll be better prepared if you have to handle a charge. 

If you have been charged with a DWI in Austin, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with a DUI attorney from James Fletcher Law. Contact us today to learn more. 

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