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DWI vs. DUI in the State of Texas

DWI vs. DUI in the State of Texas

When talking about the criminal offense associated with drunk driving, many people use the terms DWI In the State of Texas, however, they have distinct legal meanings with little overlap. Better understanding the definition of each can help you better understand the charge you are facing.

Driving while Intoxicated

DWI refers to driving while intoxicated, and it means that a person who was intoxicated – whether an adult or minor – was operating a motor vehicle in a public place. The definition of Intoxicated in this context includes at least one of the following two elements:

  • The ingestion of alcohol, a controlled substance, another drug, or any combination thereof causes the motorist in question to lose his or her normal mental and/or physical faculties – causing him or her to become intoxicated.

  • The motorist in question had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher (the legal threshold for intoxication in every state).

All motorists (both adults and minors) who are alleged to fit this legal definition can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI).

Driving under the Influence

Driving under the influence (DUI), on the other hand, refers to a minor who is operating a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. A minor is a person who has not yet reached the age of 21, and because the legal drinking age in Texas (and every other state) is 21, the law takes a zero-tolerance stance when it comes to minors who drink and drive. In this definition, any detectable amount of alcohol means that even smelling alcohol on the minor’s breath will suffice for the officer to charge him or her with DUI.

The Distinction

The distinction between a DWI and DUI is quite exact. In the most strict sense, it is not illegal for an adult to drink and drive – as long as that adult does not drink an amount sufficient to leave him or her intoxicated – or an amount that either affects his or her ability to drive safely or reaches the legal threshold of a 0.08 percent BAC. Because it is illegal for minors to drink in the first place, it is a crime for a minor to drink any amount of alcohol and proceed to get behind the wheel – whether that alcohol leaves the minor intoxicated by affecting his or her ability to drive safely or not.

Reach Out to an Experienced Killeen Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you or your minor child is facing alcohol-related driving charges, you need the professional legal counsel of an experienced Killeen criminal defense attorney, and Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard is here to help. Mr. Pritchard is a formidable criminal defense attorney with considerable experience successfully navigating cases like yours toward their most favorable resolutions. Your case is important, so please do not hesitate to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.


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