Skip to content

Talk With A Lawyer Today!

Get Started



DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences

Updated: May 24, 2023 @ 11:54 pm

Less than 1 minuteReading Time: Minutes

DWI: Driving While Intoxicated

In Texas, DWI refers to the crime of driving while intoxicated by alcohol. A driver is considered intoxicated when their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches or exceeds the legal limit of 0.08%. For commercial drivers, the limit is 0.04%, and for drivers under 21, any detectable amount of alcohol is grounds for a DWI charge.

DUI: Driving Under the Influence

Unlike many other states, Texas does not have a separate DUI offense for drivers who are operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. Individuals who are arrested for driving while under the influence of controlled substances like marijuana or prescription drugs will face prosecution under DWI guidelines.

The only difference is there won’t likely be a blood alcohol concentration test. Arresting officers may use DRE (Drug Recognition Evaluations) to determine if the motorist is under the influence of a controlled or prescribed substance.

Instead, DUI in Texas refers specifically to driving under the influence of alcohol by a minor (under 21). Any detectable amount of alcohol in a minor’s system can lead to a DUI charge.

Penalties Associated with DWI & DUI Convictions

Both DWI and DUI offenses carry significant penalties in Texas, including fines, license suspension, and potentially jail time.

  • For a first-time DWI offense, penalties may include a fine of up to $2,000, a jail sentence of 3 to 180 days, and license suspension for up to a year. Subsequent offenses carry harsher penalties.
  • Second offense DWI convictions are punishable by a county jail sentence of up to 1 year and a fine of up to $4,000.00.
  • Third offense DWI offenders will almost certainly be prosecuted under State Jail Felony guidelines or worse, depending on the situation. Multiple DUI or DWI convictions by an adult can mean serious jail time.

For a first-time DUI offense, a minor may face fines up to $500, community service, mandatory alcohol awareness classes, and a license suspension of up to a year. Adults will be prosecuted under DWI guidelines.

Challenging Evidence in Galveston DWI & DUI Cases

An experienced DWI defense lawyer, I can help challenge the evidence in both DWI and DUI cases. This may include disputing the results of breathalyzer & DRE tests, questioning the legality of a traffic stop, or utilizing the testimony of witnesses. Both Amber & I are certified ACS/CHAL Lawyer-Scientists and are uniquely qualified to challenge evidence related to human biochemistry.

If you have questions about a particular case, feel free to contact our law offices.

Plea Bargaining & Alternative Sentencing

If you intend to enter a guilty plea, which we don’t recommend without first speaking with our legal team, we can also negotiate with prosecutors to reduce your charges.

We can also seek alternative sentencing options, such as probation, community service, or drug and alcohol treatment programs. This can help minimize the impact of a DWI or DUI conviction on your life and future opportunities in addition to helping you avoid jail or prison time.

Again, if you have a particular situation that you need to talk with a lawyer about, feel free to contact our law offices in Galveston.

Should You Hire A Lawyer for DWI & DUI Defense?


Facing a DWI, DUI, or other criminal charges in Texas can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. Our experienced legal team will provide the guidance you’ll need to protect your rights and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.

Over 30 Years of Experience Helping People

Galveston DWI & DUI Defense Attorney
Attorney Tad Nelson

Every week we get DWI cases dismissed in both Harris County and Galveston County, yet we rarely see defendants with non-DWI specialized attorneys get outcomes beyond fines, stringent probation requirements, and jail sentences.

As a Board Certified criminal law attorney, I understand the nuances of Texas DWI laws and acceptable defenses and have the expertise you’ll to build a strong defense strategy.

Don’t leave your future to chance – contact our legal team today so we can help you fight your criminal charges. We’re Tad Nelson & Associates. Feel free contact us at 409-765-5614 or send us a message form.

DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences

Contact A Lawyer

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

Enter Your Full Name
Enter the best number for you.
Please enter your email address.
Enter the county of the arrest and arresting agency.

Our Blog


DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences
DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences
DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences
DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences
DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences
DWI vs. DUI Offenses: Key Differences