If your minor child has been charged with a drug or alcohol-related traffic violation, you need to understand the difference between a DWI and a DUI.
I. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
In Texas, driving while intoxicated refers to the operation of a motor vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs, such as marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine or other controlled substances. Anyone can be arrested for DWI, regardless of their age. Depending on whether you face a first, second or third offense, you may be charged with either a Class A or B misdemeanor or a third-degree felony in a DWI case. If you’re arrested for suspicion of DWI, you may be asked to take a breath, blood or urine test to establish the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system. The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Texas is currently .08. DWI offenses are typically handled in county court or felony court.
II. Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
The state of Texas reserves the DUI charge specifically for minors under 21 years of age. Minor DUI is categorized as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of any detectable amount of alcohol. If your minor son or daughter is arrested on suspicion of DUI, he or she may also be asked to submit to a breath test. It’s important to remember that minor drivers may refuse the breath test if arrested; however, there may be serious consequences for doing so. The minor could, also face a license suspension. Cases involving Minor DUI are typically heard at the municipal court level or justice of the peace court level.