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Differences between DUI and DWI

Are you confused about the difference between DWI and DUI? DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated, while DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. Well, that clarifies things, doesn't it? In Texas, the difference is actually a matter of age. If you are over 21 and you get pulled over after drinking and driving, you can and probably will be charged with Texas DWI if you are mentally impaired or have a blood alcohol level above .08. However, Texas also has a "zero-tolerance" law on the books for people below the legal drinking age. Since it's illegal for you to drink, period, it's illegal for you to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol. Texas DUI is what people under 21 get charged with if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, even if they are not impaired by it. Of course, if you’re under 21, you can still be charged with Texas DWI if you're driving intoxicated. The choice is left up to officer who arrests or cites you.

The main difference between the two charges is in the seriousness of the penalties. Although both charges will get your license suspended, for a Texas DUI charge the suspension periods are much shorter than for DWI: 60 days on the first offense, 90 days for the second offense, and 180 days for the third offense. However, any alcohol-related offense counts for the purpose of determining the length of suspension, even if you were merely in possession of alcohol and not driving at the time. You could also be fined up to $500-not exactly pocket change!

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