In Texas, a DWI is Driving While Intoxicated and it is the legal term for drunk driving or driving while on drugs. It’s easier than one might think to be arrested for drunk driving. A few drinks with a friend, stopping by a bar after work, driving home from a wedding – these happy occasions can take a serious turn when a driver has one drink too many. Taking drugs, even over-the-counter or prescription medications, can also increase the risk of driver impairment and have serious consequences.
Driving While Intoxicated vs. Under the Influence
Both driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI) refer to drunk driving, but the circumstances of each offense are different. In some states, DUI and DWI are interchangeable terms for the same offense. This is not true in Texas.
In Texas, a driver may be arrested for DWI when he or she has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or higher, based on a blood, breath, or urine test. This is the level required by law to be defined as intoxication. Conviction for a DWI is a Class B misdemeanor. If the driver’s BAC is 0.15 or higher, the offense is increased to a Class A misdemeanor.
DUI and Zero Tolerance for Minors
In contrast to DWI, DUI applies to minors under the age of 21. According to the Texas Driver Handbook, 17 per cent of minor drivers, ages 16 to 20, involved in fatal accidents in 2013 had a BAC of 0.08 or more. Texas passed Zero Tolerance legislation in response to problems with minors’ alcohol consumption. The Texas Zero Tolerance policy means that minors may be charged with drunk driving if they have any amount of alcohol in their systems.
Once a driver is pulled over for potential DWI, they may be asked to perform a field sobriety test to help the police officer determine whether they are intoxicated. Many of these tests are videotaped, which an attorney can review prior to court hearings to determine if the video may be helpful. A driver may also be asked to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test to determine BAC. An arrest for DWI results in at least 72 hours of jail time, and the seriousness of an offense depends on the circumstances, including prior offenses, age of the driver or passengers, and whether anyone was injured or killed.
A Defense Attorney Works to Minimize Repercussions
Texas DWI cases are complicated, often beginning with a subjective decision by a police officer that can result in significant jail time. An experienced DWI defense lawyer examines police records and arrest tapes, contacts witnesses, and guides a client through court hearings. For a free initial consultation in Kingwood to learn how we can help in your case, contact Andrew Williams Law online or call 281-358-9111.
About the Author: Andrew Williams I am a criminal defense lawyer with over 20 years experience defending people accused of wrongdoing. I am board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Only ten percent of attorneys in Texas are board certified in their respective field. I practice criminal law exclusively in both state and federal court including appeals of criminal cases.