Driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are both serious offenses, especially if it’s not your first one. If you are facing a third offense you need to know what to expect from here.
This article will cover important information about the differences between a DUI and DWI as well the penalty for each one. It will also explain the consequences for a third offense DUI and DWI in Texas. Learn everything you need to know here.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Driving under the influence means a person is operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Driving under the influence of drugs includes prescription drugs and recreational drugs.
If a police officer believes that an individual is driving while impaired, and therefore can not safely operate the vehicle, they may charge the driver with a DUI. To determine whether a driver is driving under the influence of alcohol, a police officer may test the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). In most states, including Texas, a BAC of 0.08 or higher is illegal.
In some states, there are additional penalties for a BAC of 0.15 or higher. And in some cases, a person can be charged with a DUI even if the vehicle is not moving. A DUI may be issued without a breathalyzer test. Certain states allow officers to charge a driver with a DUI based on erratic driving or reasonable suspicion that the driver is under the influence.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
In some states, there is no difference between DUI and DWI. Both terms refer to a driver that is under the influence of alcohol or drugs and should not be operating a vehicle.
A DWI in the state of Texas means a driver has a BAC of .08 or higher. An officer can also test a driver’s capability by performing a field sobriety test. This test is meant to determine whether the driver is impaired mentally or physically by drugs or alcohol. Even if a driver’s BAC is lower than the legal limit they can still get a DWI if they do not pass the field sobriety test.
DUI Versus DWI
DUI and DWI both indicate a person does not have the physical or mental faculties to safely operate a vehicle. You do not want a DUI or DWI on your driving record.
The terms DUI and DWI might mean the same thing in certain states, but in others, a DUI only refers to intoxication from alcohol while a DWI refers to the influence of prescription or other drugs.
In states that recognize DUI and DWI as different offenses, the DWI is usually a more serious charge. Some states allow charges to drop from a DWI to a DUI for a lesser punishment when it’s the driver’s first offense and their BAC was lower than the legal limit.
DWI Consequences in Texas
Texas is a zero-tolerance state meaning they take DUI and DWI offenses very seriously. Only individuals under the age of 21 can be charged with a DUI which is a less serious offense than a DWI. A minor (under the age of 21) can face a DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit.
For individuals over the age of 21, driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is classified as a DWI. In Texas, a DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. The penalty for a DWI is different for the first, second, or third offense.
For a first offense DWI in Texas, a person may pay a fine of up to $2,000 or face up to 180 days in jail. Their license is suspended for 90 days to 1 year and the driver must pay an annual fee for 3 years to keep their license.
For a second DWI offense, a person can face fines of up to $400 and jail time between 1 month and 1 year. The driver’s license is suspended for a year or more and they must pay an annual fee for 3 years to keep their license.
First, second, and third offenses may also come with mandatory community service hours. To learn more about first, second, and third offenses, read this article.
Third Offense DUI and DWI
A third offense DUI, DWI is the third time a driver is charged with driving while impaired and it is a felony in many states. In the state of Texas, a third DWI offense comes with the most serious penalties. A person may have to pay a fine of up to $10,000 and face 2 to 10 years in prison. The driver’s license will be suspended for up to 2 years and they will pay an annual fee of up to $2,000 for 3 years to keep their license.
Penalties for a third offense may depend on the time between charges. In some cases, third offenses can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor.
The Importance of Legal Defense
Whether it’s a DUI or DWI, your first or third offense, you need legal representation. DWI lawyers specialize in cases just like yours and they can help you get the best possible outcome from your case.
If you have recently been charged with a DUI or DWI in Texas, contact a lawyer right away. Acting fast can help you get started on your defense right away.
Facing DUI or DWI charges? Get Legal Help Now
DUI and DWI charges in Texas are serious. You could face large fines, jail time, and a suspended license. Get the help you need from an experienced legal team.
At The James R. Fletcher Law Firm, PLLC we can help you face DUI and DWI charges. We will answer your questions and walk you through every step of the legal process.
You can contact us online or call us at 512-279-6600. Don’t wait – we are here to help.