Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) versus Driving Under the Influence (DUI): What is the Difference?

A common question is, "Why did the officer charge me with DWI and not DUI?" An answer to this question must first begin with an explanation of the difference between a DWI and a DUI in Texas.

A DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a class C misdemeanor. The offense is found in Section 106.041 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Essentially, DUI is reserved for minors who have any detectible amount of alcohol in their body.

A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is a class B misdemeanor. The offense is found in section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code. A person can be charged with DWI, regardless of age, if they a) have lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties or b) have an alcohol concentration over the legal limit of 0.08.

Therefore, in Texas a person may be charge with DUI ONLY if he/she is under 21 years of age and have a detectable amount of alcohol in his/her system. Essentially, if you are under 21 and the officer smells alcohol on your breath then you can be charged with DUI.

However, the office has the OPTION to charge you with DWI regardless of your age. If the officer believes you have had too much to drink, you can be charged with DWI not matter your age.

The difference between DWI and DUI often confuses most people because most states consider DUI to be the bigger drunk driving offense. For instance, in California DUI is the equivalent to DWI in Texas. Most news stations and TV shows refer to drunk driving as DUI, not DWI. In Texas, however, DUI is a minor intoxication offense and DWI in the major drunk driving offense.

Act Now to Protect Your Freedom, Driving Privileges and Legal Rights:

If you or a loved one has been arrested or charged with a DWI or DUI within Collin County, Texas and the surrounding cities of McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Richardson, Dallas, Denton, Wylie, Addison, Prosper, Celina and The Colony, Texas and you need the help of an experienced drunk driving defense lawyer, call The Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson, P.L.L.C. today at (866) 439-2182 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Plano, Texas DWI defense trial attorney.