Drunk driving is a crime all across the United States, but there can be different designations of the offenses depending on the state in which it occurs, and the age of the driver. The most common terms are DUI and DWI. DUI is the acronym for “driving under the influence,” while DWI is the acronym for “driving while intoxicated.” While each refers to driving illegally, their meanings are not necessarily the same, and can differ from state to state.
You can be arrested and charged with either DUI or DWI in Texas if you exhibit a lack of control over your mental and/or physical faculties as observed by a law enforcement officer. But in most cases in the Lone Star State, DWI is the term applied in almost every case. That said, there are some cases where DUI is used, however rare.
In Texas, the term DUI is applied in cases of adults under the age of 21, as well as minors (i.e., individuals under 17 years old) operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or an illegal substance, even without being intoxicated. However, if someone–a minor or adult–is intoxicated while driving, he or she can be charged with DWI instead. This is a small, but consequential difference.
A DUI results in a Class C citation, and it is punishable by a fine, but still can have significant consequences for minors as well as adults younger than 21 in terms of their overall criminal record. If the driver is determined to be intoxicated in actuality by law enforcement, he or she will be charged with DWI instead of DUI if they are 17 years of age (considered an adult in Texas Criminal Courts) or older. This is important to understand because a DWI is designated as a Class A or Class B misdemeanor (depending on the specific alcohol concentration). Being charged with DWI means facing consequences that are severe, including driver’s license suspensions and installation of ignition interlock devices in their vehicles (which keeps a car from starting without the provision of a clean breath specimen).
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can risk your life and the lives of others, and can result in serious consequences and legal ramifications. Texas DUI and DWI cases can be very complicated and difficult to handle. Having a lawyer with experience and success in dealing with such cases is important to fight such a charge. If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with driving under the influence/while impaired by an illegal substance in Texas, consider contacting a caring and capable attorney like Austin, Texas-based Brian Erskine of Erskine Law to assist with your case. A professional attorney like Mr. Erskine will be able to explain the details of the charges to help you understand what your next steps should be to avoid a conviction. If you find yourself in need of a skilled attorney’s services to fight DUI/DWI charges, reach out to the counsel at Erskine Law. For a free consultation in Austin, Texas or the surrounding area, contact Attorney Brian Erskine online or by phone at 512-359-3030 to discuss the details of your drunk driving case.