Across the U.S., each state maintains different laws related to driving under the influence. In Texas, one can be charged with either a DUI offense, meaning driving under the influence, or a DWI offense, meaning driving while intoxicated. The difference between the two charges lies in the fact that a DUI offense usually only applies to drivers that are under the legal drinking age of 21. This means that if a minor is suspected of drinking any amount of alcohol, their license can be automatically suspended for 60 to 120 days. Unlike a DWI, to be charged with a DUI, no breath or blood testing is necessary. If a law enforcement officer suspects that the underage driver is highly intoxicated, however, they may be arrested and charged with a DWI.
A DWI is a serious criminal offense that is applicable to anyone found operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. In order to be arrested for this type of offense, however, a law enforcement officer must first administer a series of field sobriety tests and/or a breathalyzer test in order to determine a driver’s level of intoxication. If it is discovered that the suspected drunk driver’s BAC is at an unsafe level, they will be arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. According to Texas laws, a first-time offense is a Class B misdemeanor—which is punishable by no less than three days in jail and a $2,000 fine.
In addition to jail time and hefty fines, a convicted DWI offender may also be subjected to alcohol education classes, probation, community service, and surcharge fees. A surcharge fee may be required of a convicted drunk driver if they wish to keep their driving privileges, meaning that they will be required to pay $1,000 every year, for three consecutive years, if they were found operating a vehicle with a BAC of 0.15% or less. If the individual’s BAC was 0.16% or higher, they fee will be raised to $2,000. If you have been arrested and charged with either a DUI or a DWI in Texas, it is imperative that you act quickly to avoid the serious penalties of a conviction. Contact a Houston DWI lawyer from our firm today for more information.