What are the penalties for driving while drunk if I am under 21 in Texas?
In the state of Texas, as elsewhere across the nation, you must be 21 years old to legally consume alcohol. Despite laws prohibiting alcohol use by teens and young adults, statistics reported by Teendriversource.org reveal that alcohol is involved in one in four fatal crashes among those under the age of 21. Teens drive drunk at high rates, and their lack of experience substantially increases their crash risk. Texas has taken a zero tolerance attitude towards drinking and driving by those who are underage. As such, criminal charges for an underage DUI can be quite severe. Our El Paso DWI defense lawyers discuss the crime of underage DUI and what consequences such an arrest could have for you below.
Zero Tolerance for Drinking and Driving by Minors
Texas holds that an underage driver can be charged for a DUI for any blood alcohol content of over 00.00%. This means that a mere fraction of a percentage of alcohol in one’s blood, even without evidence of intoxication, could lead to an arrest. Further, someone under the age of 21 who refuses the breathalyzer test or does not register intoxicated to any extent on the test could still be charged with a DUI if other evidence exists as to the driver’s intoxication. For instance, if you are pulled over and your breath smells of alcohol, this could lead to your arrest and potentially your conviction.
Penalties for an Underage DUI
Minors under the age of 17 could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor if convicted of driving while intoxicated, or a DUIA (driving with any detectable amount of alcohol). A first conviction will carry a fine of up to $500, suspension of the minor’s license for at least 60 days, and between 20 and 40 hours of community service. Completion of an Alcohol Awareness Course is also necessary.
Motorists between the ages of 17 and 20 will face a Class B misdemeanor. This conviction could carry penalties of between 72 hours to 180 days in jail, fines of up to $2,000, and license suspension for one year. A conviction for a DUIA could have long term implications on a minor’s education and employment. Contact a DUI attorney right away for help defending against the DUIA charges you face.
Posted in: DWI