June 24, 2017

DUI vs. DWI: What’s the Difference?

What Are the Differences Between DWI and DUI?

DWI is an acronym for “driving while intoxicated” while DUI is “driving under the influence.” In some states only one is used. However in states such as Texas, where both terms are used and prosecuted, they tend to be confused with one another. It helps to think of this mnemonic: Only when you’re underage can you get charged with Driving Under The Influence.

DWI is determined by your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in order to determine if you are able to operate a motor vehicle.

For DUI it is the act or crime of driving with any detectable amount of alcohol in your system. Any presence of alcohol while a minor is driving a vehicle is DUI in the state of Texas. It does not, as some people erroneously believe, have to do with driving while under the influence of drugs.

What are the Consequences of DWI and DUI?

Other than having the similarity of involving the issue of alcohol, the punishments and the charges for DWI and DUI are vastly different.

A DUI is the lesser of the two charges. Only a minor can be charged with DUI in the State of Texas. A DUI charge received by a minor has several possible outcomes but none involve doing jail time as with a DWI. A stark difference is also that a DUI can be punished by fine only — a much lower fine than a DWI. Hence given the choice all minors would rather face a DUI charge than a DWI. A huge difference between DWI and DUI is also with regard to second offenses. A DUI cannot be used for “enhancement purposes” for a DWI, while if you are convicted of DWI you will face enhanced penalties the next time around.

On the other hand, for a DWI in Texas you can have a fine up to $2,000, Travis County jail time up to 180 days and a license suspension for up to 2 years. You can also be asked to install an ignition interlock device. An ignition interlock device is a mechanism installed into the dashboard of vehicle that must be blown into, to test the driver’s BAC, before the car is able to start. If the driver’s BAC is more than the legal limit the car will remain shut off. It also will “lock out” users who blow a detectable amount of alcohol into it on numerous instances. A DWI also has the possibility of the suspect having to take DWI intervention or attend an education program and/or an annual surcharge up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep their driver’s license.

For the second offense for DWI the consequences can range from a fine up to $4,000, jail time up to a year, license suspension up to 2 years, and/or an ignition interlock device. A second conviction for DWI also has the possibility for the continuation of an education program and an annual surcharge to keep your license.

For the third conviction for a DWI the consequences can include a fine up to $10,000, state prison time between 2-10 years and your license suspended for up to 2 years. Again, a DWI also carries the possibility of an annual surcharge and education programs.

What if I’m a Repeat DUI or DWI Offender

As seen in Texas, repeat offenders of DWI and DUI are shown little mercy in the criminal justice system when facing consequences. Repeat offenders will need the assistance of a top Austin DWI lawyer to minimize the impact on their lives.

If You Are Facing a DUI or DWI Charge

No matter what the circumstances are, you need to take a DUI or DWI charge very seriously. A mishandling of your case can have lifelong consequences. Contact the Law Office of James Gill now for a free discussion of your case.

If you or a friend are currently in jail for a DWI or DUI, please see our Jail Release page.