DUI vs DWI in Austin, Texas

Many people use the terms DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) interchangeably when researching drunk driving in Texas.  However, DUI and DWI do not mean the same thing.  There are distinct Texas DWI laws and Texas DUI laws.

In Texas, age is the primary distinction between DUI and DWI arrests.  If a driver is over 21, stopped for drinking and driving and found to have a blood alcohol concentration of above .08, you will face a DWI charge.  The officer and district attorney have the ability to change a driver with a blood alcohol level below .08 due to the zero-tolerance policy in Texas for alcohol impairment while operating a mode of transportation.

If a driver is under 21 a DUI arrest can occur with any measurable amount of alcohol in the driver’s system, regardless of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).  A driver does not have to appear impaired for the arrest to occur.  In addition, a driver under 21 can be charged with a DWI.

There is also a major distinction in severity of the penalties for the changes.  Both DWI and DUI carry a mandatory suspension of driving privileges, but the suspension period is shorter for DUI than DWI.  A DUI carries the following mandatory suspensions:

  • DUI First Offense: 60 Days
  • DUI Second Offense: 90 Days
  • DUI Third Offense: 180 Days

The suspensions can be increased if a driver is charged with additional alcohol-related crimes, including open container in the vehicle, driving with a child under the age of 15, intoxicated assault or intoxicated manslaughter.

The mandatory suspensions for DWI are much higher and can be found here.


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