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The Difference Between a DWI vs. DUI in Texas

The terms DWI – driving while intoxicated – and DUI – driving under the influence – are often used interchangeably. However, Texas law makes a clear distinction between the two terms. Regardless of the difference, though, if you have been charged with either, you need an experienced Dallas DWI/DUI attorney on your side.

A conviction for a DUI or DWI can have serious consequences, including jail time. The following reviews the difference between a DWI vs. DUI, and what to do if you have been arrested for either.

Defining a DWI Charge

According to Texas Penal Code Section 49.04, a person commits an offense of driving while intoxicated if he or she is “intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle if in a public place.”

A person may be charged with a DWI under Texas Penal Code, if the driver is “intoxicated”. Defined as either not having the normal physical or mental faculties as a direct result of alcohol consumption, a controlled substance, or a dangerous drug, or having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.

Understanding a DUI Charge

The law is clear about what a DWI is – operating a vehicle while intoxicated. A DUI, however, is a significantly different charge. A person can be charged with driving under the influence, even if his or her blood alcohol concentration level is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent, if that person is a minor and has any amount of alcohol or impairing or illegal drug within his or her system. Under Texas Penal Code Section 106.041, driving under the influence by a minor is defined as operating a motor vehicle in a public place while the minor has “any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.”

Difference Between DUI and DWI Penalties

A DUI offense is a Class C misdemeanor; a DWI offense is a Class B misdemeanor, unless it can be shown that the person’s BAC was 0.15 percent or more, in which case the offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. In the event that intoxication leads to bodily harm of another person, the crime may be considered a second or third-degree felony. A felony can carry a prison sentence of between two and 10 years, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

What to Do After Being Arrested for a DUI or DWI

Regardless of whether you are arrested for a DUI or a DWI in Texas, you need an attorney. Without an attorney on your side, you may face more significant penalties than you would otherwise. Some common questions you may have after being arrested for a DUI or DWI that an attorney can help you to answer include:

  • Am I obligated to take a field sobriety test or/and breathalyzer test? What if I refused?
  • Do I have the right to plead not guilty?
  • Can I be convicted of a DUI/DWI or drunk driving even if my BAC was less than 0.08 percent?
  • Can the use of marijuana result in a DUI/DWI conviction?
  • What is the difference between a DUI and DWI?
  • I did not get read my Miranda rights – what happens next?
  • Can I represent myself in court?
  • How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
  • What possible penalties am I facing?

How a Dallas DWI & DUI Attorney Can Help You

Being convicted with a DUI or a DWI can be a very frightening experience, and you may be fearful about what will happen next. When you hire an experienced Dallas DUI/DWI attorney, you improve your chances of the charges against you being resolved as favorably as possible. At Kraft & Associates, P.C., our attorneys have the skill set and resolve you need after being charged with a DUI/DWI or if you have been charged for causing personal injury to another. For legal counsel that you can trust, call us today at 214-999-9999.


I am a Dallas, Texas lawyer who has had the privilege of helping thousands of clients since 1971 in the areas of Personal Injury law, Social Security Disability, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning for Long Term Care, and VA Benefits.

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