What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

You’ll often see the terms DUI and DWI used interchangeably in Texas.

This is a mistake as they are two separate offenses with different penalties and other consequences associated with them. 

Both can lead to an unwanted criminal record unless you hire an experienced lawyer who can clear your name.

So, what is the difference between DUI and DWI?

In truth, most times when people are talking about DUI in Texas, they mean DWI. The DUI term has a very narrow meaning and application in Texas, as you’ll see below.

What are DUI and DWI?

DUI is short for driving under the influence

DWI is short for driving while intoxicated.

If you’re stopped by law enforcement officers in San Antonio, you can be charged with DWI if you are suspected of operating a vehicle in a public place while lacking the use of normal mental and physical faculties, due to alcohol or drug usage.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation:

“In Texas, a person is legally intoxicated and may be arrested and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) with a .08 BAC (blood or breath alcohol concentration). However, a person is also intoxicated if impaired due to alcohol or other drugs regardless of BAC”

Note that the ONLY way you can be charged with DUI in Texas is if you are under 21, stopped by police officers, and are found to have been operating the vehicle with ANY alcohol in your system. 

It is therefore illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in the blood. That effectively means that you may not even be able to drive the next morning after consuming alcohol at a party the night before.

DUI is sometimes also called DUIA (driving under the influence of alcohol).

*NOTE: Having said that the BAC reading is irrelevant, a person under 21 with a BAC of .08 or greater while operating a vehicle can still be charged with the more serious offense of DWI rather than DUI.

Is DWI worse than DUI?

DWI is considered a more serious offense than DUI in the state of Texas.

This is because it is usually applied to adults (in rare cases to minors) where the blood alcohol concentration is unacceptably high, causing driving impairment. 

This is considered as behavior that an adult willingly and knowingly engages in, endangering public safety.

With DUI, the law recognizes that youngsters often make silly mistakes.

That’s why a first DUI conviction, though it will result in a criminal record, has more lenient penalties associated with it:

  • Up to a $500 fine
  • A 60-day driver license suspension
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service
  • Mandatory alcohol awareness classes

These penalties increase markedly for subsequent convictions.

A first DWI conviction will result in more serious penalties than a DUI:

  • Up to a $2,000 fine
  • A jail sentence of 3-180 days
  • Loss of driver’s license up to one year
  • An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 for 3 years to retain a driver’s license

There can also be aggravating factors that make a DWI even more serious. 

When these are present, jail time is more likely and fines are higher. In some cases, your offense may be dealt with as a felony rather than a misdemeanor.

Aggravating factors include:

  • A BAC of 0.15 or higher
  • A prior DWI conviction
  • The presence of a child passenger in the vehicle
  • An open container in the vehicle at the time you are pulled over
  • Causing an accident that results in injury or death

Which is the easier charge to defend?

In some ways, a DUI is easier for the prosecution to prove because you can be charged for the presence of ANY alcohol in the system. The level of the reading cannot, therefore, be disputed.

However, in both DWI and DUI cases, officers must have reasonable suspicion to pull you over and probable cause that a crime has been committed.

Law enforcement officers and prosecution lawyers make mistakes and there is always a chance of getting the charges against you dropped.

That largely depends on the skills and prowess of your DWI lawyer.

DUI or DWI: Get an experienced lawyer 

If you are charged with DWI or DUI in San Antonio, the potentially life-changing consequences mean that you need an experienced lawyer to start defending your name as soon as possible after being arrested and charged.

I’m 100-percent dedicated to DWI and experienced in all aspects of DWI cases and securing case dismissals.

So, if you’re facing a DWI charge in Texas, call or text 210-673-1180 today for a free case evaluation with me or complete our online contact form.

Resources & information

Frequently asked questions

Glowing Client Reviews

Trey is the man! I hired him because I had overheard a county court judge mentioning how awesome of an attorney he is, so if an endorsement from a judge won’t convince you then I’m not sure what will. I sure do hope I never find myself in a pickle ever again but if I do, I would hire Trey in a heartbeat. He’s honest, transparent, doesn’t beat around the bush, and will work tirelessly so that your clean record stays clean and unblemished. 5 stars, highly recommend!


I recently hired Trey Porter Law to help our teenage daughter with a drug charge. In the state of Texas she was being charged as an adult which carried a much stiffer penalty. Trey is very responsive, helpful, knowledgeable and is always available to answer any questions or concerns via phone, text or email. He was able to negotiate on her behalf so it was a pleasant experience. I would highly recommend Trey Porter Law.


Trey really helped me out. He was straight forward and professional, and really helped me in my case. I thought i was going to lose my job, but trey did everything in his power to help me keep my way of life, and still keeps up with me any details on my case.

I really appreciated all he did for me.


Trey is a phenomenal attorney that gets the job done right! He is dedicated to help his clients.

He made himself available and answered all my concerns immediately! I had faith in him and he continued to prove his expertise by helping me. I highly recommend Trey Porter!!


Trey Porter fought for me! I am a nurse and thought my career was over.

Very thankful I got Trey Porter involved. He responds to messages regularly and was very thorough.

He saved my career. Forever grateful!


Mr Porter is the real deal. You get what you pay for these days. I know that from my personal business dealings. Attorney Trey Porter was no different.

He was prompt, professional and poised. I was charged with DWI, and Mr Porter got the charge dismissed. I could not be more pleased or thankful. If you get a DWI, hire the best — hire Trey Porter.


Read More Reviews





Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.



Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.



Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.


DWI 2nd

Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.



Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.



Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.

Contact Trey Porter Today

Request a free consultation

The stakes are high. Criminal charges can have devastating, lifelong consequences. During the free, confidential consultation, Mr. Porter will answer questions surrounding your legal matter, and discuss and identify potential defenses.

If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, the State is working on your conviction. It’s time to start building your defense.

Google Rating Avvo Rating