Question: What is the difference between DUI and DWI?
Benson Varghese: In Texas, a DUI, or driving under the influence, is a completely different offense to DWI, or driving while intoxicated. A DUI is when someone who is not at the legal age to drink, so under 21, is driving and they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. So all an officer needs is the odor of alcohol on their breath—that is a DUI. It is punishable by up to a $500 fine. So it’s an offense for which you can get a citation. It is not an offense for which you’ll face a lengthy jail or probation time.
DWI is when the state finds a driver of any age that is operating a motored vehicle while they’re intoxicated. Intoxication is a defined term. There are three ways to define intoxication. It can be a .08 or greater blood alcohol concentration; that’s the most common and what most people are used to hearing about. But the state can also prove that they were intoxicated by showing that you are not normal mentally or physically, due to the introduction of alcohol or other intoxicants into your system. A DWI and a first-time DWI is punishable by jail time and a fine. The punishment ranges from three days in jail up to 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine. The fines increase and the term of possible jail sentence increases if you have priors, if someone was injured or if someone was killed due to intoxication.