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What Happens if Someone Under Age 21 is Caught Drunk Driving in Texas?

 Posted on June 02, 2023 in Criminal Defense

Plano Criminal Defense LawyerAs the school year ends and many high school and college students begin their summer breaks, the potential for underage drunk driving arrests increases. Like all other U.S. states, the legal drinking age in Texas is 21. Individuals under age 21 are not permitted to purchase or consume alcohol, let alone drive under the influence of alcohol.

If you, your child, or a loved one were accused of drunk driving, it is important to understand the potential penalties as well as your legal options.

Penalties for Underage Drunk Driving Depend on The Driver’s Blood Alcohol Concentration

In Texas, there is a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. This means that a driver who is under 21 years of age may face legal consequences for having any detectable amount of alcohol in their body. You do not have to be over the legal limit to be charged with a criminal offense if you are under 21.

If a police officer suspects that an underage driver has been drinking, the officer will ask the driver to take a breathalyzer test or blood alcohol test. If the tests indicate that the minor had a detectable blood alcohol concentration, he or she can be charged with Driving Under the Influence Of Alcohol By A Minor (DUI). The offense is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine, community service, and driver’s license suspension for up to 180 days. Second and subsequent violations of the Texas Zero-Tolerance Policy are punishable by harsher penalties.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) Charges for Underage Drivers

If an individual who is under age 21 is arrested for drunk driving and his or her blood alcohol is above 0.08 percent, the driver faces the same DWI penalties as adults over age 21.

Being convicted of driving while intoxicated can have a significant impact on a young person's future. A first-offense DWI in Texas is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of up to a year. If there is an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, the minimum jail requirement is increased to six days.

A secondary offense is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, two to 10 years in jail, and a driver’s license suspension of up to two years. Third, fourth, and fifth DWIs are felony offenses punishable by long incarceration periods and other life-changing consequences.

Contact our McKinney DWI Lawyer for Underage Drivers

If you or your child were accused of drunk driving while underage, it is important to understand the gravity of the situation. You or your child could be facing significant consequences, including jail time. Call our skilled Collin County DWI defense lawyers for help at 469-333-3333 today.




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