Although the terms DUI and DWI are often used interchangeably, there are important distinctions between the two that Texans should know for their own benefit and that of their children’s. The distinction between DWI and DUI has mostly to do with age and sometimes with the level of intoxication. If you are not of legal age to drink, under 21, you can be charged with a DUI or a DWI. If you are over 21 you can only be charged with a DWI. In Texas, Driving While Intoxicated, the first charge, is a crime that can carry with it up to 180 days in jail, and up to a $2,000 fine. The punishments for this offense are harsher than those carried with a DUI but the level of intoxication has a higher threshold than with a DUI. In order for the state to convict someone of DWI, they must prove that the driver of a motor vehicle either had above a .08 BAC, Blood Alcohol Content, or lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of the two. You can receive a DWI at any age and, with each conviction, the possible time in jail and the possible fees go up as do the personal ramifications on your part.
Texas DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is a crime that can only be committed by a minor under 21. The controlling statute is the Alcohol Beverage Code §106.041. In order for the state to prove that the minor is Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, the state must prove they were operating a motor vehicle in a public place while having ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system: because it is not legal for a minor to be under the influence of any alcohol. However, as mentioned before, those under 21 can be charged with a DWI if the police believe that he or she has a .08 BAC or higher, or they have lost the normal use of their mental or physical faculties.
Either charge holds very serious implications for you or your child. Beyond the fees and possible jail time mentioned above, you will also likely have some form of probation, fees for that, possible alcohol monitoring devices for your person or your car, fees for that as well, your Drivers License will be automatically suspended, you will be ordered to do many hours of community service, and you can be refused a loan and even refused employment opportunities. Obviously the cost can be high, both financially and personally, so the investment in qualified and experienced representation is an absolute must.