What’s the Difference Between a DWI and a DUI?

In Texas, it’s illegal to drink and drive. People might refer to this offense as driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). Although these terms are often used interchangeably, in Texas, they are two separate crimes. What distinguishes a DWI from a DUI is the age of the alleged offender.

What's the Difference Between a DWI and a DUIWhat Is a DWI?

A driving while intoxicated charged may be levied against a person who gets behind the wheel after having consumed drugs and/or alcohol.

There are two ways a person may be accused of committing a DWI.

One is that they are operating a vehicle on a public road while they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more. Law enforcement officials typically use breath or blood tests to determine a person’s BAC. The individual may refuse to provide a sample; however, doing so may result in the loss of their driver’s license for up to 180 days.

The other way a person may be charged with a DWI is when they drive while their normal faculties are impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. Impairment can occur even after having had just one or two alcoholic beverages.

If the alleged offender is found guilty of a first-time DWI offense, they could face the following penalties:

  • Up to $2,000 in fines
  • Up to 180 in jail
  • Up to 1-year driver’s license suspension

The penalties increase for each subsequent offense.


In Texas, it’s illegal for a person under 21 years of age to purchase, consume, or possess alcohol. The state has Zero Tolerance for minors who commit alcohol-related offenses. Thus, if a minor is caught driving with any detectable level of alcohol in their system, they may be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol by a minor (DUIA or DUI).

Unlike a DWI, where a charge is levied when someone has a BAC of .08 or higher or whose faculties are impaired, the same does not apply to DUI matters. A minor may be charged regardless of their BAC or whether they were able to safely operate their vehicle.

If a minor is convicted of their first DUI, they may face:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 40 hours of community service
  • Up to 180 days of driver’s license suspension
  • Mandatory completion of an alcohol awareness course

As with a DWI conviction, the penalties for a DUI increase with each subsequent offense.

Although Texas has separate drinking and driving charges for minors and adults, that does not mean a minor cannot be charged with a DWI. If a person under 21 years of age has a BAC of .08 or their faculties are impaired, they may face the same penalties as an adult.

If you or your child was charged with a drinking and driving offense in Dallas, get the defense you need by contacting Deandra Grant Law at (214) 225-7117 today.

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