A large number of DUI cases involve young drivers under the age of 21, not yet legally allowed to drink at all. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI before you come of legal age it is important to know where you stand with the law. There are special penalties surrounding young drivers that don’t apply to their adult counterparts.
Zero tolerance in Texas
If you are under 21 in Texas, you are considered a minor. Unlike drivers over the age of 21, who will be charged with a DUI if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08%. For those underage, a minor DWI penalty can be incurred if there is any trace of alcohol or drugs at all in your system.
- If you are caught driving with alcohol in your system for the first time you may face:
- A suspended license
- A $500 fine
- An Alcohol Education program (or an extended suspension)
- Community service
- Court costs and legal fees
Other alcohol-related charges
It’s not just drunk drivers that can end up with a criminal record. It is also illegal to drive with open containers of alcohol in the passenger area of your vehicle and getting caught doing so will result in a hefty fine.
It is possible to be arrested for both an underage DUI and having an open container at the same time. If this happens, the penalty is a class B misdemeanour and a minimum of 6 days behind bars.
For minors, these crimes extend even further. All of the offences listed below can result in a license suspension of 30, 60, or 180 days depending on whether it’s your first second or third offence.
- Buying alcohol (whether the purchase was successful or not)
- Lying about your age or using a fake ID to try and buy alcohol
- Consuming, or being in possession of any alcohol
- Being drunk in public
Refusing a chemical test
If you are driving in the state of Texas, then you have provided what is known as implied consent. If a police officer believes you are driving under the influence they may ask you to take a blood or breath test. If you to refuse to take the test you will receive a separate Administrative License Revocation (ALR) on top of any DUI you may be charged with. For minors, this will be a 180 day or 2-year suspension depending on whether it is a first offence or not. Plus a $125 fee to get your license back once you have served your suspension.
Hiring a lawyer
The consequences won’t stop at those detailed above, the repercussions of an alcohol-related charge can extend into other areas of your life and impact on your reputation, college and career prospects to name a few. Making it important to get in touch with a DUI lawyer as soon as possible so that they can help you fight your case.
With the right legal representative, it may be possible to ensure you get minimum penalties, more lenient sentencing, or even beat the charges altogether.
The laws surrounding DUI’s are complex and require an experienced attorney who knows their way around this type of case. Look for lawyers who specialise in DUI/DWI offences in order to give yourself the best chance.