What are the differences between DUI & DWI?
Personal Injury Lawyer Houston, TX
Both DWI and DUI are referring to what a person may be charged with while operating a vehicle in a public roadway and are suspected to be impaired by alcohol or a controlled substance. There are differences in what the two terms mean.
DWI stands for “driving while intoxicated” and DUI stands for “driving under the influence”. Bot terms are not describing an exclusive kind of driver impairment, and may be used interchangeably if the driver is impaired by drugs, alcohol, or both. Both describe the driver as impaired by one or more substance, whether legal, or illegal. Impaired means that the accused lacks the mental and physical capacity to safely operate a motor vehicle as described by law.
DWI and being legally intoxicated
In Texas, if the accused driver is over the age of 21, they can receive a DWI if they are caught operating a motor vehicle while legally intoxicated. Legal intoxication in Texas may mean a blood alcohol level of .08 or greater; this insight is usually gathered through either a breathalyzer or blood test. The same 21 year old individual can receive a DWI charge if they are proven to have drugs in their system, or if drugs are found in the vehicle and you are suspected to be intoxicated by them.
DUI and age
A main deciding factor between being charged with a DWI and being charged with a DUI is the age of the driver. If a minor is stopped by authorities, (under 21 years of age), and they are found to be intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may be charged with DUI or a DUIA (driving under the influence of alcohol). DUI is only given to minors under 21.
Seriousness of DWI vs. DUI
In the state of Texas, DWIs are charged under the Texas Penal Code, instead of the Texas Traffic Code, which means it is a serious offense with penalties such as jail time, and fines.
DWI is typically considered to be a more serious offense than a DUI. A DUI charge, only given to minors, will not carry the same consequences as a DWI charged to an adult 21 years of age or older. There is a certain amount of leniency granted to minors; their brains are still developing, and learning to make decisions. Scientifically, if a person is 21 or older, they should be capable of making good decisions, and knowing the difference between right and wrong.
Basic examples of sentences
A first time DWI offender, may receive a fine of $2,000, a jail sentence of between 3 to 180 days, lose their driver’s license for a year, and find themselves with a fee to retain their license. A minor DUI offender, may only receive a fine of $500, a suspension of their license for 60 days, 20 to 40 hours of community service and alcohol awareness classes which are mandatory
If you or someone you love has recently been injured or has suffered death as a result of the negligence of a person driving while impaired, consider contacting a Houston, TX personal injury lawyer for legal assistance. John K. Zaid & Associates specialize in this area of law and are familiar with state-specific laws pertaining to DWI and DUI.