Child Charged with DWI – What To Do

It’s 2:00 a.m. and you get a phone call informing you that your child has been charged with driving under the influence. Most likely, your heart starts to race and your mind is inundated with questions – is my child ok, will the police hurt my child, and then you get to some future concerns like what will this do to my child’s college prospects?

Will they have to serve jail time?

What about fines?

These questions are why you need to hire an experienced Galveston, Texas criminal defense lawyer to protect your child’s rights and give you some much-needed guidance on how to best handle this situation.

If your child was charged with being under the influence of drugs or alcohols, it’s important to understand the key distinctions between a “driving while intoxicated” (DWI) charge and a “driving under the influence” (DUI) charge.

In Texas, DUI charges are specifically reserved for minors under the age of 21, whereas DWI charges are usually made against people over the age of 21, but can also be levied on a child under 21. If your child is arrested and charged with DUI, they may be asked to take a Breathalyzer test. However, a minor driver has the option to refuse the breath test, but it exposes them to the risk of suffering a more severe license penalties. Despite that it is still best to pass on the option of giving a breath test in most situations. Usually, DUI cases are heard in municipal and Justice of the Peace court.

Should Your Child Refuse a Breathalyzer Test?

If your child refuses to participate in a Breathalyzer test, their driver’s license could be suspended for two months (60 days) or up to six months (180 days). The suspension largely depends on how the charges are filed against your child. For example, if your child already has a prior DUI conviction, their license could be suspended for an even longer period, potentially up to two full years or until they turn 21 years old.

That’s the risk. Here’s the advantage to refusing the Breathalyzer test – it limits the amount of available evidence that can be used to prove DUI or even worse, DWI charges against your child. A prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your child was under the influence while operating a motor vehicle.

It’s a high burden to meet, so the less evidence that can be used, the stronger your child’s defense can be against the prosecution. However, a prosecutor could use your child’s refusal to participate in the breath test in front of the jury. Often an unethical prosecutor will imply that not offering a breath sample is an admission of guilt. It isn’t, how can making a right that you have as an American ever be admission of guilt.

The reality is that Galveston prosecutors at the Galveston County District Attorney’s Office under the supervision of our elected D.A. Jack Roady often try this trick! Fortunate more times than not The Galveston County Judges are way to experienced to fall for this nonsense. Bottom line is Tad Nelson & Amber Spurlock are on to this game and are prepared to fight this issue each and every time it comes up. Which is daily! The Galveston County District Attorney’s Office also uses the same logic if you refuse to submit to the field sobriety test and blood or urine testing.

What Happens If My Child is Convicted of the DUI Charge?

Fortunately, minor drivers do not face jail time if they are eventually convicted of the DUI charge. In Texas, a Minor DUI is categorized as a Class C misdemeanor. This means the following penalties could be levied against your child if they’re convicted:

  • Probation
  • Monetary fine up to $500
  • Driver’s license suspended for months, even years
  • Potentially many hours of community service
  • Substance abuse treatment

What To Do When Your Child is Charged with DUI?

When you get that unfortunate phone call that your child was arrested and charged with a DUI, you need to immediately contact an experienced Galveston lawyer. The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates is here to help. Everyone is entitled to a quality defense and your child is no different.

Tad Nelson & Amber Spurlock are DWI trial lawyers and have the education, training and experience to get your family through this situation. You need to hire a law firm that knows how to put on a strong defense and combat these alcohol or substance-related criminal charges.