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DUI v. DWI in Texas

 Posted on April 08, 2024 in Uncategorized

Houston DWI LawyerIn other states, “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) refers to an adult's violation of a drunk-driving law but, in Texas, the adult charge is “Driving While Intoxicated” (DWI), as explained above. The Texas “DUI” is a specific charge against a minor for drinking and driving. If you are a minor who has been charged with DUI or an alcohol-related offense in Texas, it is important to contact a Houston, TX DUI defense lawyer immediately.

Zero Tolerance for Minors in Texas

Because of the state's zero-tolerance approach, the DUI charge for minor drivers does not require any impairment, intoxication, or BAC. Any alcohol use while driving is subject to a DUI. However, because of this lower standard, the DUI penalties are less severe - a first-offense DUI may result in a fine of up to $500 and 40 hours of community service, while a first-offense DWI fine can be as much as $2,000 with a jail sentence as long as 180 days.

Both DUI and DWI offenses can include the same suspension of a driver's license, but DUI offenders are also required to participate in a mandatory alcohol awareness program if convicted. A court may also order a minor's parents to attend the program.

While DWIs may require bail for release from custody, there is no system of bail for a DUI charge. Instead, those under 17 will be held in a juvenile facility, and release is up to a judge to decide based on what is in the best interests of the minor. Usually, a judge will release a minor into the custody of a parent or guardian, but the judge can order a minor to remain in custody.

Crucially, a minor can be charged with either a DUI or a DWI, depending on the circumstances. Minors under the age of 17 will appear in juvenile court, while those aged 17 to 21 could be tried as adults.

Why Minors Should Have an Experienced DWI Defense Attorney

Minors should have a highly experienced DUI attorney represent them in any alcohol-related matters because their attorneys should consider the impact of a DUI or other convictions while developing their strategy for the present case.

As an example, a DUI conviction may be subsequently expunged (that is, completely removed) from a minor's criminal record, but only if the minor was not convicted of any other alcohol-related crimes. Also, a DUI conviction will not automatically drop off an underage minor's driving record at age 18 unless the lawyer is retained to file a petition to expunge the DUI, while a DWI will permanently remain on their driving record. Therefore, if a prosecutor is offering reduced charges and sentences in exchange for a guilty plea, the DWI attorney will work to make sure that the accepted charges would not have an accidental impact, years down the road.

Contact a Harris County, TX DWI Lawyer

If you are facing DWI in Texas, contact our office today to discuss your case, so we can begin working on your defense. One of the best Houston, TX DUI lawyers, Doug Murphy brings 20 years of experience in the courtroom in DUI defense. Heralded as one of the 2021 Best Lawyers in America by US News & World Report, Murphy currently serves as the Dean of the National College for DUI Defense conducted at Harvard Law School, and he served two terms on the board of directors and as co-chair of the DWI Committee with the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. Contact us at 713-229-8333 for a complimentary consultation.

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