What is DUI/DWI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence. Under the influence can mean both under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

DWI stands for driving while intoxicated. The intoxication can be from alcohol or drugs.

Depending on the the jurisdiction's law, the offense of drunk drviing is either called DWI or DUI. Most states have adopted the term DUI because they had designed their statues to cover more than just alcohol intoxication. However, now even the states that called the offense DWI still consider it a violation if the intoxication stems from drug use.

What is considered DUI/DWI?

All states have a standard that is used to determine DUI/DWI or what some call drunk driving. The method used to convict someone of this offense is BAC. BAC stands for blood alcohol concentration. BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your blood system.

The concentration levels can be measured by one of two methods currently being used. First, the breath test. For the most part, the test is the most common method used by police to measure your alcohol levels. The machine desigen to provide this measurement is call the breathalyzer. The measurement is taken by the subject blowing breath into a tube that is connected to the breathalyzer machine. The method or accuracy of the breath test has been question repeatedly but all jurisdictions admit its results in criminal court.

Second, a blood test. Drawing blood and testing it for the amount of alcohol to it contains. This test is a medical test and must be preformed by medical personel. You can see why the blood test is not the most common method of detection used. You often see blood test being taken when someone is involved in an accident and the are taken to the hospital. Police routinely request blood samples in accidents involving serious injuries or death.

How do they prove the offense of DUI/DWI?

DUI/DWI can be proven in two ways.

First, by showing that you have become too impaired to have your normal facualties about you while you are operating a motor vehicle. This method of proof is used when the state does not have a blood alcohol reading for you. Or if they are trying to prove you were under the influence of drug alone or in combination with alcohol. This method of proof is used usually when you refuse to provide a breath or blood sample.

Second, by showing that your blood alcohol level is above the legal limit. The legal limit in all states is .08. Once it is shown that your alcohol level was above the limit you are considered guilty of the offense even if your mental capacity was okay. In other words, having that amount of alcohol in your system while you are driving is a violation per se. That means that is all the proof the law requires.

Here is an example of a DUI/DWI statute:

Driving While Intoxicated statute from the Texas Penal Code:

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.
(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c) and Sec. 49.09, an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of 72 hours.
(c) If it is shown on the trial of an offense under this section that at the time of the offense the person operating the motor vehicle had an open container of alcohol in the person ’s immediate possession, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor, with a minimum term of confinement of six days.
Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1,
1994. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 14.55, eff.
Sept. 1, 1995.

Sec. 49.01. DEFINITIONS.
In this chapter:
(1) …
(2)"Intoxicated" means:
(A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

To view this or any other Texas Statute go to Texas Legislative Counsel Statute Search.

Defenses to DUI/DWI?

There is no real defense to DUI/DWI. In other words, there is no legal excuse that will get you off like self defense gets you off for a murder charge. Having said that, in some jurisdictions, involuntary intoxication may be a defense. An example would be if someone drugged you without you knowing it. This would be a rare circumstance and some jurisdictions may not allow it.

But you can always fight your case. Especially if you did not give a breath or blood sample. If you did give a breath or blood sample, it is not the end of your case. You can also challenge the manner, method and accuracy of the test.

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