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Texas DUI/DWI Laws

Unlike most other states that have a single DUI (Driving Under the Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) law, the State of Texas has both a DUI and a DWI law and there are important distinctions between the two. The main thing to remember is that the distinction between the DUI and DWI laws depends on the age of the driver.

DUI

In Texas, the DUI law applies only to minors under the age of 21. Texas, like every other state has a Zero Tolerance Law that prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol. These Zero Tolerance Laws apply not only to teen drivers but in non-driving situations as well. Where Texas differs from most other states is in the legal measurement of the amount of alcohol consumed. Most states require that the police measure a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .02 to charge a minor with a violation of the law. The Texas law however, calls for charging a minor with violation of the law for "any detectible amount" of alcohol; a very low standard.

A minor charged under this law will have their driver's license automatically suspended for a period of:

  • 60 days for a first offense
  • 120 days for a second offense
  • 180 days for a third or subsequent offense
A minor whose license has been suspended under this law is not eligible to apply for an occupational license (commonly known as a hardship license) for:
  • 30 days for a first offense
  • 90 days for a second offense
  • The entire period of the suspension for a third or subsequent offense

DWI

The Texas DWI law is in line with the DUI laws of most other states but it applies only to adults over the age of 21. The legal limit where a driver is presumed too drunk to drive is .08 BAC. Remember though, that a driver doesn't have to register a .08 BAC to be arrested for DUI. If, in the opinion of the arresting officer, the driver is acting in a way that shows he or she is incapable of safely operating a motor vehicle due to any amount of alcohol or drug consumption, that driver can still be arrested under the DWI law.

Help keep you and other motorists safe by reading our article 7 Ways to Avoid a DUI.

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