DWI Defense

What’s the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI?

In Texas, DUIs are charged only to minors and are classified as traffic offenses. As a result, they are not considered to be as “serious” of a crime as DWIs and often result in penalties such as minimal fines, community service, alcohol awareness classes, and/or license suspension.

DWIs, in contrast, are charged to adults who are 21 or older. Depending upon the driver’s level of intoxication, previous criminal charges, and the amount of damage caused, their penalties can range from large fines to jail time or even prison.

How Drunk Is “Too Drunk” in Texas?

The number you’re most likely to hear when discussing intoxication levels in Texas is 0.08%. That percentage refers to the blood alcohol content (BAC) level that qualifies as “too drunk” for the vast majority of Texas drivers. However, the cutoff changes for certain types of people:

  • Drivers who are 21 or older - 0.08%
  • Commercial drivers - 0.04%
  • Drivers under 21 years of age - Any alcohol or drugs discovered

If you get pulled over and suspect that your BAC level is too high for comfort, know that it is within your rights to refuse a breathalyzer or blood alcohol test. It is also within your rights to refuse to answer questions or to take a field sobriety test. Understand, too, that your refusal will result in an automatic 180-day driver’s license suspension.

When the Punishment Doesn’t Fit the Crime,

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What Are the Penalties for Getting a DWI in Texas?

Even in the most straightforward of DWI cases, a lot goes into determining the punishment assigned to the driver. Here’s a simplified breakdown of penalties that come with a driver’s first, second, or third DWI offense:


1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Maximum Fine




Jail / Prison Time

3-180 days in jail

1 month-1 year in jail

2-10 years in prison

DL Suspension

Up to 1 year

Up to 2 years

Up to 2 years

Annual Fees to Retain DL

$1,000 or $2,000 for 3 years

$1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for 3 years

$1,000, $1,500, or $2,000 for 3 years

As you can see, a DWI on its own can result in some very serious consequences. When other factors get involved — such as open containers, minors in the vehicle, or harm caused to others as a result of the incident — the resulting charges get even more complex.

Can a Lawyer Help with DWI Charges?

Even if you were found to have alcohol or drugs in your system, that doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll face the worst possible DWI penalties Texas has to offer. Depending on your circumstances, a seasoned attorney could:

  • Have false or illegally-obtained evidence against you thrown out
  • Ensure that your arresting officer followed procedure correctly
  • Help you regain your driving privileges while the court considers your case
  • Fight to have your charges minimized or dismissed altogether

Since every DWI case is different, it’s important that you work with an attorney who really knows Texas law. Call me today to learn how I can help with your case.

Don’t Face DWI Charges Alone

Even if your DWI case seems hopeless, one thing is for sure — waiting to get help is not going to improve your chances of success. Call me today to find out whether it’s possible to get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. If so, I will do everything I can to help you get things back on track.