Texas DWI Criminal Defense
DUI vs. DWI in Texas - Driving Under the
DUI vs. DWI in Texas
The first thing that a person must understand after having been arrested for DUI
or DWI is that there are two separate cases pending against them. The first case
is the Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
civil case and the second is the DUI or DWI criminal case.
Driving Under the Influence:
Driving Under the Influence - Civil Case:
Texas has long been known as a “zero tolerance” state meaning that minors
(anyone under 21 years of age) are not permitted to consume any alcohol and
drive a vehicle.
The Department of Public Safety adheres to this public policy and will suspend
the driver’s license of any minor who is found to be operating a vehicle after
consuming any amount of alcohol. In other words, if an officer testifies that he
could smell and odor of alcohol coming from a minor’s breath the Department of
Public Safety can suspend the license automatically for 60 - 120 days.
Generally, an officer will simply give a citation to a minor if he feels that
they have only consumed a small amount of alcohol and release them to an adult.
However, if the officer feels that the minor is possibly intoxicated, that
individual can be arrested for DWI.
Intoxication is not an element of Driving Under the Influence. If an ALR hearing
is requested, the Department of Public Safety is only required to prove that the
officer had 1) a reason to stop the car and 2) a reason to believe that the
minor had consumed any amount of alcohol.
Driving Under the Influence - Criminal Case:
Driving Under the Influence is a Class “C” misdemeanor punishable by a maximum
fine of $500.00, but no time in jail, for a first time offender. Repeat
offenders would be subject to higher fines and the possibility of jail time.
Probation, alcohol assessments and classes, as well as, community service are
also required by most prosecutors.
Driving While Intoxicated:
Driving While Intoxicated is a common criminal offense which affects all types
of individuals. The penalties for DWI are dependent upon the severity of the
offense as well as an individual’s history. DWI convictions are enhance able
offenses, meaning that an old conviction will be considered in punishment of a
second conviction. The same is true for any license suspension which may occur
after an arrest.
Intoxication can occur in one of two ways in Texas. If a person provides a
specimen of blood, breath, or urine which shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC)
of .08 or great at the time of driving then they are intoxicated by law.
Likewise a person may be intoxicated because of a loss of their normal use of
mental or physical faculties by introduction of alcohol, illegal drugs,
prescription drugs or a combination of these.
DWI encompasses numerous types of vehicles including automobiles, boats, planes,
amusement park equipment and other water vessels. If a person is shown to be
operating any of these while intoxicated they risk serious consequences. Minors
can also be arrested for DWI. If a person is under 21 years of age and is
operating a motor vehicle, they will be subject to the same penalties as an
adult in both the criminal and civil case with one exception, the license
suspension for a minor who provides a specimen above a 0.08 will be for 60 days
instead of 90 days.
Driving While Intoxicated - Civil Case:
A person who is arrested for a DWI can face significant automatic license
suspensions. If a person who submits to a breath or blood test has a blood
alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a 0.08, DPS will try and suspend the
person’s driver’s license for a minimum 90 days to a maximum 1 year. If a person
has a previous alcohol related contact, like a DWI, within ten years and they
provide a specimen, DPS will attempt to suspend the person’s license for a term
of not less than one (1) year.
If, a person refuses to provide a specimen of breath or blood, DPS will try to
suspend a person’s driver’s license for no less than 180 days and mo more than 2
years. In the case of a refusal, actions as well as words can be considered
refusing to provide a specimen. The officer is not required to obtain a “no” or
“I refuse”, in order to make that determination. In fact, requesting an attorney
or not answering at all can also be considered a refusal. These license
suspensions are completely independent of the criminal case. The burden on the
Department is extraordinarily low and most people arrested for DWI suffer
through some type of license suspension. If a person has a previous alcohol
related contact, like a DWI, within ten years and refuse to provide a specimen,
their license will be suspended for a term of not less than two (2) years.
Driving While Intoxicated - Criminal Case:
If this is a first time arrest for DWI, it will be classified as a Class “B”
misdemeanor. The punishment range for a Class “B” DWI is not less than three (3)
days in jail and a two thousand dollar ($2000) fine. As with DUI, alcohol
education classes, community service, probation and court costs are all
possibilities when facing a DWI conviction.
An additional license suspension, independent of the civil case, may also occur
as a result of a DWI conviction. Because this is an enhance able offense, the
punishment for subsequent DWIs will included significant jail time, fines and
community service hours.
The Texas Legislature has also recently enacted a law which requires that the
Department of Public Safety collect a surcharge from any individual convicted of
DWI. This surcharge is a fee entirely separate from your criminal or civil case.
If a person refused to provide a specimen or provided a specimen under 0.15,
then they must pay a surcharge of $1,000 a year for three (3) years after being
convicted of DWI. If a person provided a specimen of 0.16 or above, the
surcharge is $2,000 a year for three (3) years. If the surcharge is not paid it
can result in further license suspensions or cancellation of a person’s driver’s
Drunk Driving (DWI) Trial Defense Attorney
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney - Austin Texas
Please call and schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience, because I can help you through the unfamiliar territory
of the criminal justice system. Because each case is different and special, I offer a free initial consultation where you and I can sit
down and discuss the charges against you and what options are available to you. To assist you financially in paying any attorney
fees, I offer flat rate fees and flexible payment plans that will allow you to hire me as your criminal defense attorney so that I can
start immediately to protect your rights.
DWI Criminal Defense Trial Attorney
812 San Antonio St., Suite 100
Austin, TX 78701
Call Toll Free - 866) 469-6056
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Ken Gibson criminal defense trial attorney in Austin, Texas
handling Drunk Driving (DWI) and Driving Under The Influence (DUI) in the state of Texas. Travis County, Williamson County, Hays County and Bastrop
County. Austin, Georgetown, Manor, Round Rock, Pflugerville, Del Valle, Cedar Park, San Marcos, Bastrop.
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