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Are DWI and DUI different in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jun 26, 2024 | Drunk Driving

Readers of this blog and other legal blogs have likely seen the acronyms DWI and DUI. However, you may not know the difference between them. In Texas, the terms Driving While Intoxicated and Driving Under the Influence are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct legal definitions and applications.

What is DWI?

DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, applies to individuals who operate a motor vehicle in a public place while their mental or physical faculties are impaired by alcohol, drugs or other substances. A person is considered legally intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher. This offense generally applies to drivers aged 21 and older.

What is DUI?

DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, is a charge specifically for drivers under 21 who are found with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. This is enforced under Texas’s Zero Tolerance laws, which prohibit minors from operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol.

Key differences

The primary difference between DWI and DUI in Texas is the age of the driver and the level of alcohol present in their system. DWI pertains to adult drivers (21 or older) with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. In contrast, DUI is aimed at drivers under 21 who have consumed any amount of alcohol, regardless of the BAC level.

DUI offenses for minors typically result in less severe penalties than DWI. These can include fines, mandatory alcohol education classes, community service and license suspension. However, repeated offenses or higher BAC levels can lead to harsher consequences.


While both DWI and DUI involve driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances, they are distinct offenses in Texas law with different criteria and penalties. DWI applies to adults with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, while DUI targets minors with any detectable alcohol in their system. Understanding these differences is crucial for recognizing the legal consequences associated with each term.