UNDERAGE DWI IN GEORGETOWN, TX
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES? IS THERE HOPE?
To legally drink alcohol in Texas you must be 21 years or older. If you are under age 21 there are few instances where consuming alcohol is acceptable under law. Two of the exceptions to the drinking age is if an underage drinker is on private premises that does not sell alcohol and has consent from a legal guardian. It is also considered acceptable if an underage drinker has consent from a legal guardian on premises that do sell alcohol, such as a restaurant. Even though these instances allow individuals under 21 to consume alcohol, driving after drinking is still illegal. Texas has strict laws regulating underage drinking and driving due to the percentage of DUI related deaths that involve drivers under the age of 21. Even though only 10% of drivers are under age 21, those drivers account for 14% of the DUI related deaths in the state of Texas. This disproportionate percentage has caused the standards for underage drinking and driving to be strict. If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI offense as an underage drinker, contact The Law Office of Clovis Martin right away.
UNDERAGE DUI LAWS IN TX
The state of Texas is a zero-tolerance state. This means that any detection of alcohol in a driver under age 21 can result in a DUI arrest. Only underage drinkers can receive a DUI- driving under the influence offense. As a minor, being under the influence means any detectable amount. A DWI is different because it means that the driver was ‘driving while intoxicated’ and both minors and adults can receive this charge. In order to detect the level of impairment, a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test is used and if the results show anything above .00%, DUI/DWI charges could follow. The penalties for a first DUI offense as an underage drinker include:
- A fine of up to $500
- An alcohol education program
- A license suspension of 60 days and up to two years
- Community service for between 20 and 40 hours
This is generally charged as a Class C misdemeanor in Texas but can be aggravated if there are additional elements to the case. A second offense DUI in Texas as an underage drinker would also be charged as a Class C misdemeanor but other penalties could be increased. The consequences for a second underage DUI offense include:
- A fine of up to $500
- An alcohol awareness and education program
- Community service for between 40 and 60 hours
- A license suspension of 120 days and up to two years
A third underage DUI would be increased to a Class B misdemeanor. First and second offenses are generally eligible for deferred adjudication. This type of plea involves the defendant receiving probation, treatment programs or community service and if completed, the crime will not be put on a criminal record. The charge is usually dismissed and the defendant can move forward. If facing a third underage DUI, the possibility of deferred adjudication does not exist, the defendant could be facing up to 180 days in jail, license suspension and a fine between $500 and $2,000.
DWI LAWS FOR MINORS
DUI is a common offense for underage drinkers while DWI is used for adults. Underage drinkers could be facing DWI charges as well depending on their BAC level. If facing a DWI conviction, the underage drinker could be facing between three and 180 days in prison, a fine of up to $2,000 and a license suspension for 90 days. These penalties only go up from there with subsequent offenses. When facing DWI or DUI charges, an underage drinker could be facing other charges as well. Some other offenses that often follow an underage DWI includes:
- Minor in possession
- False I.D. possession
- Alcohol solicitation
- Distribution of alcohol to minors
Also, be aware of the insurance consequences that could follow and underage DUI/DWI offense. Some insurance companies can terminate a policy entirely if you receive a DUI or DWI. Oftentimes, insurance companies will not immediately terminate a policy but they could refuse to renew it when that time comes. More often, they decide to increase the premium costs for a few years. Insurance companies can justify these changes because you are seen as a higher risk after receiving a DUI/DWI offense.