In Texas, a DWI conviction is considered worse than a DUI conviction due to its penalties. DUI charges can also escalate to DWI charges depending on the circumstances of the case, especially if the offense involves:
- An accident that resulted in an injury or fatality
- A high blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level
- Multiple offenses besides the DUI offense
- Previous offenses that resulted in the defendant’s driver’s license suspension or revocation
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 and a DWI in Texas
There are several ways in which a DUI and DWI are different in Texas.
Under Texas Penal Code § 106.041, when a minor (defined as someone under 21 regarding drinking laws) 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 BAC level limit for driving a vehicle is 0.08 percent. Therefore, if a minor is driving while impaired or with a BAC level of 0.08 percent or higher, then they can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), a more severe charge.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01, 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:
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A minor under the age of 21 who has been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) may be penalized with:
- A 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 (DWI) may be penalized with:
- A jail sentence of up to 6 months
- A fine of 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
- Carry a gun
For this reason, it is important to try to expunge your DUI or DWI, if possible.
Factors That Might Make You Eligible for Expungement
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, an under 21 DUI lawyer can help you 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.
- You manage to overturn the conviction with an appeal.
An attorney from our law firm can review your case to see if you have grounds to pursue expungement for a DUI/DWI on your record.
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 meet with you to answer your questions, discuss your situation, and go over your legal options.
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Our Legal Services for Clients Facing DWI or DUI Charges
If you decide to work with a criminal defense attorney from our firm, our legal team can fulfill several services to help you with your case, including:
- Investigating your case to establish facts or find discrepancies in your arrest or blood test
- Collecting evidence that supports your claims or defends you against the prosecution, such as breathalyzer data that shows the officer did not properly calibrate the device before testing you or video footage of your arrest that shows you were not read your Miranda rights
- Attending your initial hearing to petition for bail or lesser charges
- Representing you in all other court appearances to present your case in front of a judge and jury
- Advising you on which statement you should or should not make while your case is ongoing
- Contacting witnesses who might have witnessed your arrest or who can provide an alibi if applicable
- Negotiating a plea deal depending on the severity of your case
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. For example, your lawyer may work with the courts to reduce your charges so that you receive a lesser conviction.
Additionally, if you have questions about how to proceed with your case, your DWI lawyer will be available to provide legal counsel and set realistic expectations for your case.
Contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg Today for Legal Support
If you want to clear your name of a DWI/DUI charge or try to get your charges reduced, 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 DWI lawyer in Dallas, Texas.