• Justin Sparks

What is the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?

Updated: Feb 11


It Varies State to State

It Varies State to State


There is a lot of confusion about these acronyms and what they actually mean. Part of the confusion is that different states call the same crime different things! So, if you are familiar with drinking and driving in California (where most movies and tv shows are made) or in New York (where most of those shows are set), the names will be different than they are here in Texas.


To make it more confusing…Texas has both DWI and DUI.

What is a DWI?


What is a DWI?


Under Texas Law, the crime we think of as “drunk driving,” the government calls “Driving While Intoxicated,” or DWI. This means you’ve been accused of driving after having too much alcohol to drink, or ingesting some other substance that has made you unable to function normally.


A first time DWI in Texas (with no aggravating factors) is a class B misdemeanor, meaning you could face up to 180 days in county jail, and up to a $2000.00 fine. People of any age can be charged with DWI, including people under the age of 21.


What is a DUI?


Under Texas Law, DUI or “Driving Under the Influence,” is a charge for a person under 21 years of age drinking and driving. The defendant does not need to be over the legal limit, what we call “intoxicated,” to be charged. Only people under the age of 21 years old can be charged with DUI.


If you are under 21 years of age, even one drop of alcohol in your system could lead to the government charging you with DUI…even if you weren’t intoxicated.


A DUI is a class C misdemeanor, meaning it does not entail possible jail time but can carry a fine up to $500.00. Even though there is no possible jail time it is important to remember to take this seriously. A conviction for DUI can go on your record and follow you for the rest of your life.


Defense for DWI and DUI

Whether you’re facing a DUI or the higher charge of DWI, the consequences can be devastating for your license, your job, and your future. You need an experienced criminal defense team on your side. Call us to set up a consultation.