Ellis County DWI / DUI Lawyer

Know your rights…


The difference between a DUI and a DWI in Texas is important to understand, as the penalties and potential consequences can vary. In Texas, both a DUI and a DWI refer to an individual operating a vehicle in a public place while intoxicated, which means they lack the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the use of alcohol or drugs.

“DUI” stands for “driving under the influence,” while “DWI” means “driving while intoxicated.” While “DWI” is the legal definition of this crime in Texas, “DUI” is commonly used interchangeably though incorrectly.

For individuals who are 21 years of age or older, a DWI charge can be given if they operate a vehicle while legally intoxicated, which is defined as having a blood or breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or greater, or being impaired by drugs.

On the other hand, if a person under the age of 21 is pulled over and has ANY alcohol in their system, they can be charged with a “DUI” or “DUIA” (Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol). This is the only officially legal use of the term “DUI” in Texas.

It is important to note that Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers under the age of 21. Regardless of whether the minor is impaired by the alcohol in their system, it is illegal for them to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol. This means even something as simple as cologne, hair products or mouthwash could set off a detectable amount of alcohol on a breathalyzer and result in a DUI charge. However, if a driver under 21 has a BAC of .08 or greater or was driving under the influence of drugs, they can still be charged with a DWI.

In terms of severity, a DWI is considered a more serious crime in Texas. While DUIs are only charged to those under 21 under the Texas Traffic Code, a DWI is charged under the Texas Penal Code, making it a more significant offense. The penalties for a DWI can range from heavy fines to time in jail or prison.

It is important to take both charges seriously, but the consequences of a DWI are generally more severe than those of a DUI. Understanding the difference between a DUI and a DWI in Texas can help individuals make informed decisions and take appropriate actions to avoid legal trouble.

Introduction to DWI vs. DUI in Texas

In Texas, the terms DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct legal charges with different implications. Understanding the differences between DWI and DUI is crucial for individuals navigating Texas laws related to impaired driving. This guide aims to clarify the distinctions between DWI and DUI, their definitions, punishments, and implications under Texas law.

Definition of DWI (Driving While Intoxicated)

DWI in Texas refers to the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs to the extent that normal faculties are impaired. In Texas, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% for individuals aged 21 and older. For commercial drivers, the legal limit is 0.04%, and for individuals under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol can result in a DWI charge.

Definition of DUI (Driving Under the Influence)

In Texas, DUI typically refers to the offense of operating a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream for individuals under the age of 21. Unlike DWI, which focuses on impairment, DUI charges can be brought against individuals under 21 even if their BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08%.

Punishments for DWI in Texas

The punishments for DWI in Texas vary depending on factors such as prior offenses, BAC level, and other circumstances. Penalties for a first-time DWI offense may include:

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year
  • Mandatory attendance in alcohol education programs
  • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device
  • Up to 180 days in jail

Subsequent DWI offenses carry steeper penalties, including higher fines, longer license suspensions, and potential felony charges for multiple offenses.

Punishments for DUI in Texas

DUI penalties in Texas for individuals under 21 are generally less severe compared to DWI offenses but can still have significant consequences. Penalties for a first-time DUI offense may include:

  • Fines up to $500
  • 60-day driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory participation in alcohol awareness programs
  • Community service hours
  • Possible enrollment in a juvenile diversion program

Subsequent DUI offenses can result in harsher penalties, including longer license suspensions, increased fines, and potential criminal charges.

Differences Between DWI and DUI in Texas

The primary distinctions between DWI and DUI in Texas include:

  1. Age Requirement: DWI applies to individuals of all ages, whereas DUI specifically targets individuals under 21 years old.
  2. BAC Threshold: DWI focuses on impairment, with a legal BAC limit of 0.08% for individuals aged 21 and older. DUI can be charged for any detectable amount of alcohol in the bloodstream for individuals under 21.
  3. Severity of Punishments: DWI offenses generally carry more severe penalties compared to DUI offenses due to the potential risks associated with impaired driving.


In Texas, understanding the differences between DWI and DUI is essential for individuals, law enforcement officials, and legal professionals involved in impaired driving cases. By recognizing the distinctions in definitions, punishments, and implications under Texas law, individuals can make informed decisions and take proactive measures to prevent impaired driving incidents.

In summary, differentiating between DWI and DUI under Texas law is critical for navigating the legal system and understanding the consequences of impaired driving. By clarifying the definitions, punishments, and distinctions between DWI and DUI, individuals can better comprehend their rights and responsibilities in cases involving alcohol or drug-related offenses on Texas roads.


Contact our Ellis County Criminal Lawyer firm today.


Picture of an Ellis County Sheriff SUV to take criminals to jail who need lawyers

Time is of the essence…

If you were arrested for a DWI you only have 15 days to request a hearing for ALR – automatic license renewal.  If you do not request a hearing in time or do not show up prepared, your license could be suspended.

Likewise other crimes have important factors that are time sensitive.  It may be important to have you tested at a court approved lab for drugs or other substances because drugs will metabolize out of your system very quickly and there is only a small window of time left to test.

And for other crimes still it can be important to get witness testimonies or affidavits before the details start to blur or fade or before other parties obtain lawyers and stop talking.

Office Hours

Weekdays – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Waxahachie Lawyer

Divi attorney

Contact Info

Waxahachie TX 75165

(469) 547-7761

Copyright © 2024 Divi. All Rights Reserved.