Is DWI the Same as DUI?

Defining The Crime Of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)

In Texas, you could be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) through one of three circumstances:

  • Having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or greater
  • Driving without normal mental faculties
  • Driving without normal physical faculties due to the effects of alcohol and/or drugs

Even if you have legally consumed a prescription medication immediately before driving, a law enforcement officer can still arrest you for DWI if they suspect that your mental and/or physical capabilities have been impaired. In fact, many of these cases are subject to the discretion of the arresting officer, as they have the power to detain you even if you have refused to submit to a breathalyzer test. During your trial, the prosecution would simply state that your lack of cooperation should be taken as evidence of guilt.

Defining The Crime Of Driving Under The Influence (DUI)

While adults and minors can both face DWI charges in Texas, the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) is exclusively reserved for individuals under the age of 21. Since the state upholds a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking and driving, one could be charged with DUI if they have consumed any measurable amount of alcohol — regardless of whether or not they have met the standard legal limit. In fact, an officer can make an arrest for simply smelling alcohol on a minor’s breath. Unlike DWI, it would not be necessary to administer a chemical test or even prove that the effects of alcohol and/or drugs had impaired the defendant’s abilities. It must only be shown that the minor had consumed a measurable amount of alcohol, as this is a crime in it of itself.

Possible Companion Charges For Underage Drivers In Texas

Since Texas upholds a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to underage drinking — even if that does not include driving immediately thereafter — it is important to understand that you could face more than just a DUI charge if you have been accused of participating in an alcohol-related offense. Under the law, a minor could face the suspension of their driver’s license for 30 days (first offense), 60 days (second offense) or 180 days (third offense) if you have been accused of committing any of the following crimes:

  • Misrepresenting your age
  • Possessing alcohol
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Purchasing alcohol
  • Being publicly intoxicated

The severity of the punishment may vary, depending on the amount of alcohol that was measured in your system, so it is important to note that you could face more than just the suspension of your driver’s license. In some cases, the court may require you to participate in an alcohol awareness course, an even serve jail time or a period in a juvenile detention facility.

For this reason, you should not hesitate to speak with a Houston DWI attorney from Jim Medley & Associates P.C. if you or your child has been accused of committing one of the aforementioned crimes.

Arrested For DWI Or DUI? Contact Jim Medley & Associates, P.C.

Whether you have been arrested for DWI or DUI, it is imperative that you enlist the help of an aggressive criminal attorney as soon as possible. Not only could you be facing hard time behind bars, but you may also be at risk of acquiring a permanent mark on your criminal record. For these reasons, turn to the expertise and experience of the Houston DWI lawyers at Jim Medley & Associates today. When you call our office at 713-893-0908, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions that you may have and get started on building the effective defense that you will need.