In today’s post, our DWI attorney will break down the main differences between driving while intoxicated and public intoxication.

Under Texas law, driving while intoxicated (DWI) and public intoxication (PI) are two very different offenses.

DWI Attorney Sets the Record Straight

Contrary to popular belief, there’s a noteworthy difference between public intoxication and driving while intoxicated in the state of Texas.

Despite both offenses being assessed based on the individual’s past criminal record, driving while intoxicated is classified as a more severe offense.

This charge can often lead to a felony, especially if the arresting officer witnesses certain circumstances. For instance, A DWI attorney categorizes driving while intoxicated as a felony charge when the inebriated individual is apprehended with a child in the vehicle as a passenger. The drunk person’s past criminal record is irrelevant at this point.

On the other hand, public intoxication is not a major criminal offense – in most situations. This is particularly true if it’s the first conviction for the charged individual.

Even so, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t pose issues for the arrested individual – especially if the arresting or investigating officer suspects that the individual is under the influence of drugs or any other illegal substances. It also takes several public intoxication charges before the conviction gets harsher.

Driving While Intoxicated

Driving while intoxicated in the state of Texas is a more severe offense than a public intoxication charge. As of the published date of this article, no blood alcohol concentration gauge allows the court to assume if an individual is intoxicated. The court can’t use it as a basis for a public intoxication conviction as well.

However, it’s not the same with DWI charges. If an individual is arrested while operating a vehicle and he or she is found out to have level .08 in the blood alcohol concentration gauge, then it may be time to hire a DWI attorney.

This blood alcohol concentration level is way above the legal allowance.

Furthermore, those who opt not to take part in a breathalyzer test will not be allowed to operate a vehicle for 180 days. He or she will also be convicted with a driving under the influence charge, at which point it’s crucial to hire the services of a DWI attorney.

Drunk drivers with a level .15 or above in the blood alcohol concentration scale are charged with a DWI as well as a higher-level offense. Those individuals driving with a level .08 in the blood alcohol concentration level scale will have a driving while intoxicated conviction under particular circumstances.

One of which is when he or she has a child in the car with them as a passenger. Another circumstance is when a drunk driver is involved or caused an accident. The charge then escalates to a personal injury lawsuit that results in longer prison sentences. Intoxicated drivers with illegal drugs or substances in their system may also be convicted with a driving while drunk offense.

Public Intoxication

A public intoxication charge in the state of Texas is not classified as an individual merely drinking in a public place, even when it’s evident that they are drunk.

During this type of offense, an arresting officer hardly ever conducts a breathalyzer test, different from a driving while intoxicated offense.

For a public intoxication charge to stick, all that is required for evidence is the official testimony or statement from the arresting officers. Since this charge is a minor offense, many officers prefer not to waste their resources to gather evidence against the offender.

However, if the offender is acting unpredictably or erratically, or if he or she poses as a threat to themselves or the people around them, apt resources may be utilized.

If that’s not the cause, public intoxication charges are a regular occurrence for law enforcement officers.

What Are the Penalties for These Charges?

For a public intoxication offense, there’s typically a monetary charge of $500 along with an obligatory detox jail stay. Naturally, this penalty will depend on several factors. One of which is the specific circumstance revolving the offense.

And as you can guess, driving while intoxicated penalties are more severe. A first-time offender can get long-term jail time. On top of that, they can also receive a costly monetary penalty.

If you are involved in a DWI or you need the services of a competent DWI attorney, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

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