Since a DWI carries more serious penalties, it is typically worse than a DUI. The penalties for a DUI or a DWI depend on the circumstances of the case such as a resulting injury/fatality, blood alcohol level (BAC), number of offenses, and the status of the defendant’s driver’s license.
What is important is that you should take neither charge against you lightly, as they can impact your criminal record and have a devastating effect on your life.
Comparing a DUI vs. a DWI in Texas
There are several ways in which a DUI and DWI are different in Texas.
Under Section 106.041 of the Texas Penal Code, when a minor (someone under 21) is driving under the influence of any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, they are violating state law. As such, most courts recognize a DUI as attributed to minors who operate a vehicle while intoxicated.
The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for driving a vehicle is .08 percent. Therefore, if a minor is driving while impaired or with a BAC of .08 percent or higher, then they can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), a more severe charge.
Under Section 49.01 of the Texas Penal Code, a person violates Texas law if they are operating a vehicle or machinery in a public place while intoxicated. They do not have their normal mental or physical faculties due to alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both.
A person can be charged with a DWI if their ability to operate a vehicle or other machinery is impaired or they have a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
Comparing DUI and DWI Penalties in Texas
The penalties for driving while intoxicated are worse than the penalties for driving under the influence. For instance, the penalties for a first-time offense for each charge include:
A minor under the age of 21 who has been charged with driving under the influence may receive:
- Fine of up to $500
- 60-day license suspension
- Up to 40 hours of community service
- Mandatory alcohol awareness class
However, it is important to note that the consequences of a DUI are severe because they can affect a minor whose life has just begun.
An adult over the age of 21 who has been charged with driving while intoxicated may receive:
- Jail sentence up to 6 months
- A fine up to $2,000
- Driver’s license suspension up to 1 year
- Attendance in an alcohol addiction treatment program
A DWI sentence imposes tougher penalties such as higher fines, a longer driver’s license suspension, more community service hours, and additional penalties that a DUI sentence does not impose.
How Long Each Offense Stays on Your Record
If you were charged with a DWI, the conviction can stay on your criminal record for life. Having a criminal record can affect your ability to buy a house, get a student loan, buy a car, vote, or carry a gun. For this reason, it is important to try to expunge your DUI or DWI, if possible.
If you are a minor and charged with a DUI your juvenile record may be eligible for expungement once you complete the terms of your sentence. If not, you may request to have your record expunged after you turn 21. The only other reason a court may expunge a record is if the judge dismissed the case, you were found innocent of the charge, or you manage to overturn the conviction with an appeal.
Hiring an Attorney for Your DWI/DUI Case
Whether you receive a DWI or DUI charge in Texas, you may want to consult a criminal defense attorney in Dallas who can help you with your case. An attorney can help meet with you to answer your questions, discuss your situation, and go over your legal options. A legal team can investigate your case to establish facts, find discrepancies in your arrest or blood test, and challenge the prosecution’s claims.
You may have options such as pleading innocent, entering a plea bargain, or getting your case dismissed. A law firm can help you explore your options and make the right decision that gives you the best possible outcome. Your lawyer may work with the courts to reduce your charges so that you receive a lesser conviction.
Contact Us Today for Legal Support
If you want to clear your name of a DWI/DUI charge or try to get your charges reduced, then contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg. We provide comprehensive legal services for all types of DWI and DUI cases. Call (214) 696-9253 for a free case assessment with a lawyer in Dallas, Texas.