DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) IN TEXAS
What is the difference between DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in Texas? This is a question that many people have and there are important distinctions between the two offenses to consider.
To find out more information about DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Texas see the DWI Page on this site.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas is governed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 106.041. This section provides the following information regarding Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas:
Sec. 106.041.DRIVING OR OPERATING WATERCRAFT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL BY MINOR.(a)A minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor's system.
The first point to notice is that this section applies to minors. "Minor" is defined by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 106.01 as a person under 21 years of age.
The second point to notice is that this section also applies to watercrafts. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas can be in a motor vehicle or a watercraft. The definition applicable to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas of "motor vehicle" is found in Texas Penal Code 32.34: "a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks."
"Public place" as it applies to Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas is defined by Texas Penal Code 1.07: any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.
The last portion of the statute is perhaps the most important. Many people think that Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas means that your are driving under the influnce of some substance other than alcohol. This is incorrect. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Texas specifically only applies to alcohol. An alcoholic beverage is defined by Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 1.04: "Alcoholic beverage" means alcohol, or any beverage containing more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume, which is capable of use for beverage purposes, either alone or when diluted." Additionally, many people will say that the officer did not conduct any field sobriety tests. While field sobriety tests may be beneficial, they are not required as it must only be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that "A minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor's system."
There are many unique punishments that are associated with Driving Under the Influence in Texas. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 106.041 outlines them:
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Texas Penal Code 12.23 provides that a Class C Misdemeanor is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.00.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code 106.041 continues:
(c) If it is shown at the trial of the defendant that the defendant is a minor who is not a child and who has been previously convicted at least twice of an offense under this section, the offense is punishable by:
(1) a fine of not less than $500 or more than $2,000;
(2) confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days; or
(3) both the fine and confinement.
(d) In addition to any fine and any order issued under Section 106.115, the court shall order a minor convicted of an offense under this section to perform community service for:
(1) not less than 20 or more than 40 hours, if the minor has not been previously convicted of an offense under this section; or
(2) not less than 40 or more than 60 hours, if the minor has been previously convicted of an offense under this section.
(e) Community service ordered under this section must be related to education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.
(f) A minor who commits an offense under this section and who has been previously convicted twice or more of offenses under this section is not eligible for deferred disposition or deferred adjudication.
DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSION
Minors who are convicted of DUI will:
- Receive a one-year driver license suspension, and
- Be required to complete a 12-hour class in an authorized Alcohol Education Program.
- Failure to complete the Alcohol Education Program will result in a 180-day suspension.
- Subsequent offenses may result in a one-year suspension.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE (DUI) LAWYER IN TEXAS
If you are facing a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge in Texas it is important to have a lawyer that knows the law, is familiar with police procedure, field sobriety testing, and representing individuals facing intoxication offenses. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.