By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Every state has laws preventing drunk driving. Some call their laws DWI (driving while intoxicated) and some call it DUI (driving under the influence). Texas actually has both, but there is a big difference between the two.
DUI – Minors
Only a minor can commit a DUI in Texas. A DUI is where a person under 21-years of age has consumed any detectible amount of alcohol and is operating a motor vehicle. A DWI can be committed by anyone (including minors) who do not have the normal use of their mental or physical faculties due to the introduction of drugs, dangerous drugs, or other substances into the body and are operating a motor vehicle.
A DUI is a Class c misdemeanor meaning it is the lowest level offense and it’s typically handed by a justice of the peace or at the municipal level. The maximum fine is $500 and there is a big push in those cases towards rehabilitation, community service, and alcohol eduction. The burden is clearly lower for those cases as the state only needs to show the driver consumed, “a detectible amount of alcohol.” Both offenses carry possible drivers license suspensions.
DWI – Both Adults and Minors
A DWI is a class b misdemeanor punishable between 72 hours and 180 days jail and/or a fine not to exceed $2,000. Generally speaking, a DWI is what people are referring to in Texas when they talk about drunk driving laws.
Jeremy F. Rosenthal
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.