Did you know there is a Difference Between A DWI and A DUI In Houston TX?
Although most people think that the terms DUI and DWI are synonymous, in Texas they are not. There are differences between being charged with a DUI and DWI. They not only mean different things, but they also vary in terms of charges and penalties. What they both have in common is that they can come with some severe and significant consequences if you don’t have the right attorney defending you.
What is a DWI in Texas?
Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 defines a DWI as any person who is found driving while they are intoxicated or they commit the offense of operating a motor vehicle while they are under the influence of an intoxicant. The legal definition of being “intoxicated” is that a person is impaired either physically or mentally due to the consumption of alcohol or controlled substance or any illegal drug. It is also defined as having a BAC (blood-alcohol concentration) of more than 0.08% in their system, as tested either by a breathalyzer or through a blood urine alcohol analysis.
Although a DWI is clearly defined, a DUI is different and is not as concise. A driver can be convicted of a DUI, or driving under the influence, even if they are tested and their blood- alcohol concentration is less than 0.08%. The only time that it is possible to get a DUI if the BAC is not over 0.08% is if the driver is under the age of 21. If the person is a minor and is caught with any amount of alcohol, then they may be convicted of a DUI. Since it is not legal for anyone in Texas to drink alcohol until they turn 21, any consumption of alcohol is considered illegal, and, therefore, subject to criminal charges.
What is the difference in penalties between a DWI and a DUI?
If you are charged with a DUI, then it is a Class C misdemeanor. If you are charged with a DWI in Houston, then it is considered a Class B misdemeanor, unless the person is tested and their BAC is shown to be 0.15% or higher. If the driver is found to have a BAC over 0.15%, then it becomes a Class A misdemeanor. If the driver has a BAC over 0.08%, and they get into an accident that causes someone to be injured, then the penalties can be escalated to felony charges. If you hurt someone while driving while intoxicated in Houston, then you can face either a second-degree or third-degree felony that can come with a prison sentence that can be as long as 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Should you plead guilty or go to court if you are charged with a DWI or DUI?
If you are charged with a DWI or a DUI, you do have the option to plead guilty and just take your punishment. But that is almost never a good idea. Whether you are facing a DWI or a DUI, it is always best to hire a professional DUI auto lawyer to plead your case. They might be able to reach a plea agreement with the prosecutor, have your charges lessened, or in some instances even have your case thrown out altogether.
There are many defenses that an experienced DUI lawyer can use to plead your case. Since specific steps must be followed, if the police faltered in any way while charging you, then your lawyer might be able to use that as grounds for dismissal, or at worst, to get you a plea bargain that will work in your favor. Just because your BAC was over the legal threshold, that does not necessarily mean that you will automatically be found guilty.
Before you decide what to do when charged with a DWI or DUI, it is always a good idea to consult a DWI lawyer in Houston to find out what type of charges you are facing and whether there is a reasonable defense to your charges.