What is the Difference Between DWI and DUI in Texas?

A night out in Texas can become a legal nightmare if you drive under the influence or while intoxicated.

While many people use DWI and DUI interchangeably, the Texas law defines the two differently. 

The difference between DWI and DUI in Texas is that DUIs apply only to minors under the Texas Traffic Code.

If you face either of the charges, hire a lawyer to help with your case. Here is an overview of what the two mean. 

Drinking While Intoxicated In Texas

According to section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.  

The Texas Penal Code defines “intoxicated” as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by use of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, or a combination of those substances. In addition, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 and above amounts to intoxication.

Under the Texas Zero Tolerance Policy, the state can charge a person aged 21 and above with DWI. This is if they operate a vehicle while legally intoxicated or have an alcohol blood/breath concentration of 0.08, or is impaired by drugs.

Drinking Under Influence In Texas

Under Texas Traffic Code, driving under the influence (DUI) is a Class C misdemeanor and only applies to minors (those under the legal drinking age of 21). 

The DUI charges apply when the minor is found driving under any detectable amount of alcohol. Thus, even if the state does not have to prove intoxication, the child found to be driving under the influence may face the full force of the law. 

It’s worth noting that the state may elevate the offense to a more severe DWI charge and enforce stiffer punishments for the culprit. 

The charge could depend on if the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and the intoxication levels. 

What Are the Penalties For DWI In Texas?

The penalties for a DWI fall under three categories: first offense, second offense, and third offense. 

For a first offense, the penalties can be:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • A jail term of 180 days upon conviction
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to a year

For the second offense, the charges may be:

  • Up to $4,000 fine
  • A one-year jail term
  • Lose driver’s license for two years

For a third offense:

  • A $10,000 fine
  • Two to ten years imprisonment
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to two years

The penalties may include a fine of $3000, $4,500, or $6,000 as assessed upon sentencing. 

What are the Penalties for DUI in Texas?

The DUI charge is a class C misdemeanor and brings a maximum of $500 penalty for the first time. While the minor might not have to spend time in jail, the state may suspend their driver’s license for 60 days. 

In addition, the state may sentence the DUI offender for 20 to 40 hours of community service and require them to complete an alcohol abuse education program. 

For the second and third DUI offenses, the conviction becomes a Class B misdemeanor involving up to a $2,000 fine and 180 days jail time. 

Other Consequences of a DWI/DUI in Texas

If you have a DUI or DWI charge in Texas or other states, employers will turn you back. Besides, if you are at the mercy of others driving you to work, it is not always practical and economical, which could result in losing a job.

The conviction of the DWI felony may result in the prohibition of the right to own a firearm and even affect your child’s custody rights. 

Finally, a DUI or a DWI conviction may affect your ability to qualify for a home loan since lenders deem you a risk.


Driving under the influence of alcohol or intoxication risks your life and others. DUI or DWI in Texas can result in hefty fines, a jail term, or even license cancellation. 

Are you facing a DUI or DWI in the state of Texas? 

As you can see, the Texas DUI or DWI laws and penalties can be severe.

Do not let a breath or a blood test decide your fate. Hire a DWI defense lawyer in Texas to protect your legal rights.