If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Houston, you’re likely under the age of 21 and extremely worried about what your future might bring. 

Is there a difference between DUI and DWI in Texas? Will being arrested for DUI in Houston affect my college applications? How long can they hold you in jail for DUI? Will my driving privileges be taken away?

At Thiessen Law Firm, we’re asked questions like these on a daily basis, and over time, we’ve uncovered some common misconceptions associated with a DUI arrest in Houston. Let’s clear up some of those misconceptions right now.

Misconception #1: A DUI is the same thing as a DWI in Houston

A DUI is NOT the same thing as a DWI in Houston. A person is charged with a DUI if they are a minor caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. DWIs are typically reserved for adults (but not always).

Unlike a DWI, a person can be charged with a DUI no matter what their BAC level was at the time of arrest — even for a BAC level as low as .01%. If there is any alcohol detected, seen, or smelled, the minor can be arrested for a DUI in Houston. DUIs aren’t just alcohol related, either. They can include common drugs such as weed.

Misconception #2: To be arrested for DUI in Houston, you have to be driving a car

One thing we always like to bring up — especially when it comes to DUIs and younger individuals — is that you can be arrested for a DUI (or DWI) whether you’re driving a car or “driving” something else. 

So if you’re wondering, “Can you get a DUI on a scooter?” … the answer is yes. In fact, you can be arrested for DUI on bicycles, boats, ATVs, and other “vehicles” that can be operated. For minors and younger adults who may be operating these vehicles on a daily basis, this fact is an important one to keep in mind.

Misconception #3: A DUI first-time offense has the same penalties as a DWI first-time offense

Since a DUI and DWI are not interchangeable offenses, it’s only natural to assume that the penalties are not interchangeable, as well. When it comes to first-time DUI and first-time DWI charges, you can expect penalties to differ substantially.

What is the punishment for DUI first offense in Texas? 

Jail Time: no jail time
License Suspension: up to 60 days
Fines: up to $500
Community Service: up to 40 hours
DUI Education Program: commonly required

Remember, these DUI penalties can change depending on the circumstances. If you’re facing a run-of-the-mill DUI charge, the aforementioned penalties can be expected. However, if this isn’t a first-time DUI offense or if your case involves property damage or harm to others, the penalties could be more severe. 

For example, if you’ve been arrested for DUI in Houston for your second or third time, you could face up to $2,000 in fines, a 1-year license suspension, and even up to 180 days in jail. These more severe penalties are very similar to those of a first-time DWI. In other words, minor or not — you could face DWI penalties.

Misconception #4: Minors can’t be charged with a DWI

Unfortunately, minors picked up for driving under the influence aren’t always charged with Driving Under the Influence. Minors can be charged with a DWI if the circumstances allow for it. This typically happens if your BAC level is above .08%, which is the level an adult would need to have in order to be charged with a DWI.

At a .08% BAC level, a minor transitions from a zero tolerance policy of driving with any detectable amount of alcohol present to breaking the law and driving while fully intoxicated. 

With a DWI, a minor will face the same penalties an adult would face. While jail time is unlikely, it is still possible.

Misconception #5: You don’t need a defense attorney when you’ve been arrested for DUI in Houston

Whether your goal is to reduce penalties, keep the DUI off your record, or overcome the DUI charges completely, it is always recommended to seek counsel when you’ve been arrested for DUI in Houston. 

Solid DUI defense tactics include leveraging the faulty science behind breathalyzers (learn why “do not blow” is bad advice) and scrutinizing the conduct of the officers during the arrest. An experienced DUI defense attorney can leverage this evidence to gain the upper hand on your case and establish reasonable doubt in the process. 

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Houston,Thiessen Law Firm can help you overcome that charge and walk you through how to get your record expunged in Texas

With Triple Board Certified Criminal Lawyer and Board Certified DWI Specialist Mark Thiessen on the Thiessen Law Firm team, we have what it takes to get your life back on track. We have won over 100 Not Guilty verdicts and 1000s of dismissals, making us Houston’s go-to DUI law firm. 

Give us a call today at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online form to request a free DUI/DWI consultation.

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Thiessen Law Firm

Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.