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Understand Texas DUI Laws
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Many people, understandably, get confused between Texas DWI laws and Texas DUI laws. So, what's the difference?
The first thing to understand is that there is a difference. People have a tendency to refer to them interchangeably. However, under Texas law, driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence are two distinct criminal offenses. Generally, driving while intoxicated (DWI), or drunk driving, carries a heavier penalty than driving under the influence (DUI).
The fundamental difference between a Texas DWI and a Texas DUI is the age of the defendant. Under the Texas Penal Code, anyone can be charged with a DWI, regardless of age. However, only individuals under 21 years of age can be charged with a DUI.
The Alcoholic Beverage Code actually defines the DUI offense. Section 106.041 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code makes it illegal for a minor to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. Driving under the influence is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500, an alcohol awareness course, community service, and driver’s license suspension.
Article 42.12 of the Texas Code for Criminal Procedure establishes the drivers license suspension periods for a DUI and instructs that, "the judge nonetheless shall order the suspension of the driver's license, permit, or operating privilege of that person for a period determined by the judge according to the following schedule:
- Not less than 90 days or more than 365 days, if the defendant is convicted under Sections 49.04-49.08, Penal Code
- Not less than 180 days or more than two years, if the defendant is punished under Section 49.09(a) or (b), Penal Code
- Not less than one year or more than two years, if the person is convicted of a second or subsequent offense under Sections 49.04-49.08, Penal Codecommitted within five years of the date on which the most recent preceding offense was committed."
Article 42.12, § 13(n) of the code also establishes provisions for the suspension of a minor's license based on a DUI conviction as, "... (n) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or other law, the judge who places on community supervision a defendant who is younger than 21 years of age and convicted for an offense under Sections 49.04-49.08, Penal Code, shall:
- Order that the defendant's driver's license be suspended for 90 days beginning on the date that the person is placed on community supervision
- Require as a condition of community supervision that the defendant not operate a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is equipped with the device described by Subsection (l) of this section."
If you have questions about the law regarding your DWI or DUI arrest, call the Murphy-Hill Law Group at 214-524-5782 to discuss your case with a licensed DWI lawyer.
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