What is the difference between DWI and DUI in Texas?

Many people come to the office of Jim Medley Defense Lawyer looking for help, but often they are unsure about what they are actually charged with. Some people say DWI and others say DUI. The most common explanation is simply that Texas law defines the crime of driving while intoxicated as “DWI.” Many other states use the label “driving under the influence” or “DUI” for driving while essentially intoxicated.

Texas does not use the term DUI to describe an adult who drives after having too much to drink or intoxicated from drugs. Texas does use the DUI label in cases where a minor (under 21 years old) drives while having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. This includes an amount under the legal limit or even a single drink.

This charge, which applies only to minors, is a less serious charge than DWI.

Whether charged with DWI or DUI, a person needs representation by the best defense lawyer they can find. A conviction for either charge can result in suspension of driving privileges and a permanent criminal record. An experienced Texas defense lawyer can help a person avoid either of these consequences. If a person drives after their license is suspended, they can be arrested and charged with a new offense that could carry jail time.

Is it fair to be charged with DUI even if completely sober?

Some people complain that the DUI law is too strict on minors. These critics challenge the law, rationalizing that if a person is unaffected by alcohol, then they should be able to legally drive. People who support the law argue that drivers under 21 are not supposed to drink at all, and should be punished if they drive after even drinking responsibly. These supporters commonly argue that the law is good since younger drivers may be affected by alcohol at lower levels since they are not as used to its effects as older adults.

What do you think about the Texas DUI laws for underage drinking? Add your comments below!