Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence
Although DWI seems relatively straightforward, it is one of the most complicated areas of the law. A DWI can include any time a driver is operating a vehicle while impaired by the influence of any substance, even over-the-counter or prescription medication. The penalties depend on whether it is their first offense, how incapacitated they were, whether they caused harm or damage while driving, and how old they were at the time. Every case is different, and even DWIs that initially seem straightforward or “obvious” can turn into dismissals or not guilty verdicts with the right attorney.
What is the real difference between a DWI and a DUI?
DUI (Driving Under the Influence): A DUI refers to driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and it can send you to jail. DUI does not require intoxication. It refers to any detectable amount of alcohol or drugs in someone’s system. If you are under the age of 21 or a commercial truck driver you are not allowed behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming any alcohol (or illegal drugs). You are legally intoxicated in Texas if your blood alcohol concentration reaches/exceeds 0.08%, but you are still breaking the law as soon as drugs or alcohol affect your driving (flying or boating) ability. A DUI in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor and if punishable by fine of up to $500. Even just carrying an open container of alcohol in your vehicle, even if you’re not drunk, is illegal. Learn more about Texas open container laws here.
DWI (Driving While Intoxicated): Driving while intoxicated applies to all drivers regardless of age and involves legal intoxication. To be guilty of DWI, the court must provide proof that you were legally intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, as in over the state legally allowed blood alcohol level or significantly impaired.
Texas Penal Code provides 3 ways for the state to prove you are intoxicated:
- If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above or
- If you no longer have “normal use” of your mental faculties/abilities or
- If you no longer have “normal use” of your physical abilities
Are there different types of DWIs?
In Texas here are various types of DWIs one can be charged with along with varying punishment ranges depending on the circumstances.
- DWI 1st Offense: Class B misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail with a minimum of 72 hours in jail.
- DWI 1st Offense w/open container: Class B misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $2,000 and/or 180 days in jail with a minimum of 6 days in jail.
- DWI 1st Offense with BAC of 0.15 or more: Class A misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $4,000 and/or 1 year in jail
- DWI 2nd Offense: Class A misdemeanor punishable by fine up to $4,000 and/or 1 year in jail with a minimum of 30 days in jail.
- DWI 3rd Offense: Third Degree felony punishable by fine up to $10,000 and/or 2-10 years in prison.
- DWI with child passenger: State Jail felony punishable by fine up to $10,000 and/or 6 months – 2 years in state jail.
I have been arrested for DWI/DUI – Do I really need an attorney?
There are many steps that can be taken to avoid extended or lasting consequences that result from a DWI/DUI arrest. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible in the event that you are arrested for any crime.
There are specific legal procedures and steps that must be followed before you can be officially convicted of DWI/DUI. This is where an attorney can come in handy – we know the right questions to ask:
Was the stop constitutional? Was there probable cause? Was proper police procedure followed? There are a number of ways to fight back against a DWI/DUI arrest and we are happy to help. Contact us today here or at 214 210 2100 for a free 30 minute consultation.