Some people use the terms DWI and DUI interchangeably, but in Texas, there is a clear distinction.
DWI Defined in Texas
A DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge involves a person operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Texas Penal Code stipulates “intoxicated” as the impairment of normal mental faculties or physical capabilities as a result of alcohol or a drug. A person with a measured blood alcohol concentration of at least .08 percent is also considered intoxicated.
In Texas, a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) is a different charge and involves a minor. A minor driving in public can be charged with a DUI even if the blood alcohol concentration measures below .08 percent if any amount of alcohol or impairing drug is detected in their system.
Classification of Offenses
If intoxicated driving results in physical harm to another person, the DWI/DUI charge is a felony that can involve a jail sentence and a substantial fine. If the DWI case does not involve physical injuries to others but documents the driver’s blood alcohol concentration higher than .15 percent, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor. A DWI offense involving a blood alcohol concentration below .15 percent but at least .08 percent is a Class B misdemeanor. A DUI involving a minor and no injuries is a Class C misdemeanor.
The Right to an Attorney
Any DWI or DUI charge is a crime and will be tried in criminal court. Every citizen has a right to defend themselves in court. Self-representation isn’t advisable since DWI/DUI law constantly changes and tends to be complicated. Appointed public defenders have court experience and usually know DWI/DUI law, but also tend to have sizable caseloads which translates to little time and attention for each case.
Private Attorneys Work for You
A private DUI or DWI defense lawyer in Tyler, TX costs more, but defendants can choose an attorney who will answer all questions or concerns. A private attorney handles all aspects of a DWI/DUI case reducing client stress and anxiety. A private attorney with DWI/DUI experience and expertise usually secures a better outcome and can significantly shorten a client’s time spent in court translating to less time away from school or work.