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What is a DWI?

Grant M. Scheiner - Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer

What is a DWI?

In the state of Texas, DWI is the term applied to driving while intoxicated or, colloquially, drunk driving. (Some people refer to it as DUI, although, technically, DUI in Texas usually applies to minors.) Many of the same DWI laws and penalties apply whether you are driving a motor vehicle, flying an aircraft, operating a boat, or assembling or operating an amusement ride. Texas DWI laws are not restricted to alcohol; a driver may be charged with a DWI offense if they have taken a controlled substance, a drug or any other substance that may impair their ability to drive safely. This even includes certain prescription or over-the-counter medications, regardless of whether you had a valid prescription from a physician.

In certain circumstances, the penalties for DWI may be enhanced. These include prior convictions, driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 15, and being involved in an accident in which someone is killed or seriously injured. The penalty for an ordinary, first-time DWI offense may also be increased if the person’s alcohol concentration was higher than .15.

A driver’s blood or breath alcohol concentration is often assessed to determine whether the driver is above the .08 legal limit to operate a motor vehicle, aircraft, boat, etc.

Texas Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits

        • Adults 21 years and older – .08 percent
        • Minors – any detectable amount
        • Commercial drivers – .04 percent

Driving under the influence

With the introduction of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984, the minimum legal age to purchase alcohol was effectively standardized in all 50 states at 21 years of age.

What happens if you get a DWI?

Being arrested for DWI can have a negative effect on your life, long after you have paid your debt to society. Apart from the possible custodial sentence, fines and suspension of driving privileges, your arrest is a matter of public record and may affect the following:

Your chances of getting a job, renting a home, or getting into the college or university of your choice. Prospective employers, landlords and college admissions officers may access your criminal record. You may also have to declare your arrest on an employment application.

Your ability to obtain a firearm A person may be found ineligible to obtain a concealed handgun license if he/she has been convicted of a Class “A” or Class “B”. At a minimum, DWI is a Class “B” misdemeanor.

Service in the armed forces.

International travel. Some countries will not permit entry to individuals who have a criminal record. Despite shared borders with the United States, it may be difficult to enter Canada or Mexico with a history of DWI. If you have a record of DWI, it is best to seek solid DWI information from an immigration lawyer before planning your trip.

Your car insurance rates may increase substantially.

If convicted, you will be forever labeled as a drunk driver

For all of the above reasons, it is more important than ever before that you engage an experienced lawyer if you are arrested for DWI. No one should be unjustly punished in the well-intentioned zeal for keeping genuine offenders off the roads.

For DWI help or if you are still unsure about what is a DWI, contact Scheiner Law Group, P.C., where our goal is a dismissal or acquittal in every case. We serve the greater Houston metropolitan area, including the counties of Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Walker and Waller.