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Collin County criminal defense attorney underage DWI

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is treated as a serious criminal offense for Texans of any age, but underage drinkers are subject to even more stringent penalties. Texas not only has separate laws for driving under the influence (DUI) that apply to drivers under the age of 21 with any amount of alcohol in their system, but several other underage drinking offenses can also result in the loss of driving privileges. If you or your child has been arrested on an underage drinking charge, you should know about the potential legal consequences. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights and driving privileges.

Texas Underage Drinking Laws

In Texas, underage drivers can be arrested for DUI if they have consumed any alcohol before driving. A police officer can make an arrest based on a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, even one with a result below the legal limit of 0.08 percent, or based on smelling alcohol on the driver’s breath. Texas law also prohibits someone under the age of 21 from purchasing, possessing, and consuming alcohol in most situations, as well as being drunk in public. A person arrested for the first time for any of these offenses may face Class C misdemeanor charges.

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Prosper DUI defense attorney

In some states, DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence) are considered synonymous. However, in Texas, DWI and DUI are actually two distinctly separate charges. That is because DUI involves underaged drinking, whereas DWI can apply to anyone who is of legal drinking age. The two charges are legislated, enforced, litigated, and penalized differently. Below is a closer look at these offenses and their corresponding consequences.

DUI: Definition and Enforcement

DUI is a charge brought against anyone under the age of 21 who is found to be operating a motor vehicle or boat while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unlike DWI, blood alcohol content (BAC) levels are unnecessary in proving that someone has consumed alcohol for these charges. A police officer can claim that a young person is “under the influence” by merely smelling alcohol on his/her breath. In addition, the driver does not need to be drunk or otherwise impaired to be charged with a DUI.

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