What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?
In Texas, there are two classifications for drunk driving charges. One is DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and the other is DWI (Driving While Intoxicated). What it comes down to is the age of the driver and the severity of their impairment behind the wheel. A Texas DUI or Texas DWI differ in legal severity as well.
What is Impaired Driving?
It is important to keep in mind that any amount of alcohol in your system is dangerous. The legal limit for a DWI or a DUI is not as important as your own individual safety. Additionally, alcohol is not the only thing that can result in a charge for impaired or intoxicated driving. This means that a “legal limit” is not the same as a safe limit.
Driving on drugs or after drinking can result in legal repercussions as well. If the drunk or drugged driver causes an accident that results in death, it can land them in prison. If the driver is caught driving while intoxicated or under the influence, they could receive a DWI or a DUI depending on the situation.
What is the Difference?
DUI stands for driving under the influence. Minors (under 21) are the only group of drivers in Texas that can be charged with a DUI and they do not have to be at the legal limit or above it. The legal limit applies to those that are drinking legally. A driver under 21 is not supposed to be drinking at all.
A DWI is the adult version. Once a driver is convicted of a DWI in Texas, it will remain on their record no matter what. While a DUI will not remain on a driver’s record forever, a DWI will never go away. This charge is issued automatically if the driver’s BAC is at or above .08% or they are deemed impaired by the officer.
What is the Law?
The legal limit in Texas for the amount of alcohol you can have in your blood is .08%. This might be common knowledge, but what does legal limit actually mean? We covered the science behind blood alcohol in How Many Drinks Does it Take to Get to .08? but when a driver gets pulled over, the science isn’t all that matters.
Driving while intoxicated means that being impaired is the standard for whether or not a driver is taken in for a DWI. Your blood alcohol content is a factor but not the final say. This means an officer can determine that you are driving while intoxicated even if you are under the legal limit.
Be sure to prioritize safety on the road. If you plan to drink, get a ride home. Driving while intoxicated or under the influence is dangerous. Stay safe with ride-sharing services, designated drivers, and responsible consumption.