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What does a DUI/DWI mean in the United States of America?

If you have been living in the USA since your childhood or even for a short period of time, you will surely be familiar with the terms DUI and DWI. It is a crime in every state in the country for someone to operate a vehicle, while under the influence of alcohol, or any other drug which includes prescription drugs as well.

Whether the crime committed is a DUI (Driving Under Influence) or DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) depends on the state in which the crime has been committed. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will receive a criminal sentence.

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI in Texas?

There is a big difference between DUI and DWI in Texas. It is not really an interchangeable term because it applies to two different age groups and has different legal consequences and costs. It can easily be a tricky task to identify what these two terms imply in Texas and this article will walk you through everything you need to know about it.

In Texas, a DUI or DWI charge might be slapped to any individual who is driving in a public place while intoxicated. This means the person does not have the physical or mental condition to be operating the vehicle because the concerned individual is under the influence of alcohol or a drug.

Now here’s the catch

A drunk individual who is above 21 and is legally intoxicated will be charged with a DWI when their blood alcohol concentration or BAC is above .08 or if they are under the influence of some drug.

However, if the person concerned in this situation is under 21 and has any trace of alcohol in their system, they will surely be slapped with a DUI or a DUIA which “Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol”. Because of Texas’ zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol consumption of an individual under the age of 21, no matter how small it is, any trace of alcohol in the system of the person concerned is enough to slap a DUI charge.

A minor can also be charged with a DWI if the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is more than .08 or if he or she is under the influence of drugs.

DUI charges and how long they stay on your record

DUI penalties are a lot less severe than DWI charges in Texas because the former is applicable to minors. A minor who has been charged with a DUI may receive a fine of up to $500 along with a 60-day suspension of their license coupled with 20-40 hours of community service and mandatory alcohol awareness classes.

This seems to be a fair penalty when compared to a DWI charge where one receives a fine of up to $2000 along with 3-180 days of jail time and suspension of their driver’s license and a hefty fine which goes to $3000 dollars for the retention of their license.

Depending on the severity of the crime both DUI and DWI charges might stay in your record permanently but there are legal procedures to get your charges expunged if you have not been convicted but just charged with a DUI or a DWI.

A charge alone can make life a lot more difficult for you. So, if you can satisfy certain criteria then it is possible for the record to be removed (expunged) or you can issue a non-disclosure order with the help of an attorney.

Expunctions and Non-disclosures (and how to apply for them)

Expunction: An expunction is nothing but the removal of the criminal charge from your record. In this case, the charge will be permanently removed from your record and even law enforcement authorities won’t be able to access it. Denying a previous arrest is completely legal if you have your record expunged.

Non-disclosure order: A non-disclosure order is one where your record is sealed from the public. There will be no problems in social life in this case. You will be able to deny that such a record exists in public but government officials will surely be able to access this.

For your records to be expunged or sealed, the following steps must be followed:

  • If your attorney thinks that you are qualified to have your DUI record expunged or sealed, then a petition is the first step towards achieving it. You will have to file for an expunction or a non-disclosure. This petition will contain a detailed explanation of your previous offense along with all the parties that were involved.
  • A hearing date will be set where the judge will hear statements from all the parties concerned and decide if your records should be sealed or expunged.
  • The judge finally decides whether your records should be expunged or sealed. Having a Texas criminal attorney speak on your behalf will surely tilt the scale to your favor.
  • Finally, if your requests are granted you have to file an order with the help of proper agencies. There is no point in having won your case if you do not file the order and have it passed.

Final Thoughts

It is truly understandable if you had been slapped with a DUI or DWI if you were a minor. We all make mistakes in life and if this charge has been seriously affecting your life, it’s time to get rid of your record.

Speak to an attorney as fast as possible and get that thing off your chest because if you don’t it is going to stay permanently.

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