In the state of Texas, like many states, there is a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. As a result, if a person under the age of 21 operates a motor vehicle or watercraft in a public place with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, he or she is violating the law.
Penalties for Underage Drinking and Driving in Texas
A minor who has committed his or her first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol faces Class C misdemeanor charges under Texas law. A Class C misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500, mandatory attendance at an alcohol awareness class, and 20 to 40 hours of mandatory community service. The minor also would be subject to a 60-day suspension of his or her driver’s license.
For a second offense, a minor who drinks and drives also commits a Class C misdemeanor under Texas law. The penalties are more severe for a second offense than for a first offense. The judge could order the minor to pay a fine of up to $500, attend an alcohol awareness class, and perform 40 to 60 hours of mandatory community service. The minor also would have a driver’s license suspension of 120 days. Both first and second offenses for underage drinking and driving are eligible for deferred adjudication. This means that the minor could keep the conviction off his or her criminal record by following the court’s conditions and staying out of trouble. However, a minor is entitled to only one deferment, and the conviction still counts as a DUI conviction in relation to future arrests.
A third minor DUI offense is not eligible for deferred adjudication. The minor will receive a driver’s license suspension of 180 days. If the minor is at least 17 years of age, he or she can face a $2,000 fine, as well as a jail sentence of up to 180 days.
Enhanced Charges and Penalties for Underage DUI in Texas
Any minor who has a previous alcohol-related offense is likely to receive more severe penalties than a minor facing a first offense. Additionally, a driver who is over the age of 18, but under the age of 21, and has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater faces enhanced charges and penalties under Texas law. Essentially, a driver in this category will face the full penalties for a DUI charge as an adult, which are considerably more severe than the penalties for a minor DUI offense.
Get the Help that You Need From Your Galveston DWI Lawyer
The penalties that a teen faces for a DUI charges are potentially serious, especially if the teen has a prior conviction for an alcohol-related offense. Don’t allow the potential for a teenage DUI conviction ruin your child’s future.
Contact a Galveston drunk driving lawyer at the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates and learn how we can help your teen and your family get through this difficult situation and move on to a brighter future.