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What Happens When a Minor Is Charged With DWI in Texas?

police officer giving field sobriety test to a teenager

The penalties depend on many factors, including the specific charge.

A person in Texas is eligible for a provisional driver’s license at 16 but must be at least 21 to buy or publicly drink alcohol. So what happens if a minor (defined as under 21) is caught driving under the influence?

The short answer is that the minor can be charged with a DWI offense and may face fines, a license suspension, community service – and possibly even jail time.

In Texas, it is against the law for adult drivers 21 and over to drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of 0.08%. But the rules are much stricter for younger drivers. The state has a zero-tolerance law for any drinking by a minor driver. They can be charged with Driving Under the Influence by a Minor (DUI by a Minor).

What are the penalties for minors?

If the police pull over a minor and suspect alcohol use, the driver may be asked to take a field sobriety test and breath or blood test. A BAC of even 0.02% can result in arrest, and the vehicle may be towed.

DUI by a Minor under 17

This is considered a Class C misdemeanor. For a first offense, the driver may be fined up to $500, sentenced to 20 to 40 hours of community service, receive a license suspension of 60 to 180 days, and may also be required to take an alcohol awareness course. A parent may also be required to take the course.

For a second offense, the driver may be fined up to $500, sentenced to as many as 60 hours of community service, receive a license suspension of 120 days to 2 years, and may also be required to take an alcohol awareness course.

DWI by a Minor 17 to 20

This is considered a Class B misdemeanor. For a first offense, the driver may be fined up to $2,000, sentenced to 72 hours to 180 days in jail, and receive a license suspension of 1 year. In addition, if eligible, the driver may be given the option of a 90-day license suspension if an ignition interlock device (IID) is installed in their vehicle.

A second offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor. The driver may be fined up to $4,000, sentenced to 30 days to one year in jail, and receive a license suspension of 180 days to 18 months.

A third offense is considered a felony DWI. The driver may be fined up to $10,000, sentenced to a prison term of 2 to 10 years, and receive a license suspension of 180 days to 2 years.

Contact a Texas DWI defense attorney.

A DUI conviction can significantly impact a young person’s life and future. If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving in Texas and are facing charges, don’t take chances. Instead, call an experienced DWI defense lawyer to fight for you. Call Amanda Webb – DWI Lawyer.

A former prosecutor, attorney Webb is familiar with the state’s drunk driving laws and how the state builds cases. She knows how to build a strong defense and fights to get charges reduced or dropped. If you’ve been arrested, you need legal advice as soon as possible. There’s too much at stake. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation or call 1-800-395-5951. We're available 24/7.

What Is the Penalty for Intoxication Assault in Texas?

Man driving car is pulled over by police. Flashing lights at night

Texas has many DUI-related charges with stiff penalties, and one such charge is intoxicated assault. The following information is general and explains what an intoxicated assault charge means in Texas. If you are facing an intoxicated assault or another criminal charge, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer for a free case evaluation. Our criminal defense law firm is based in Conroe, Texas, and we serve the surrounding Montgomery County area.

Intoxicated assault

One of the more common DUI/DWI-related charges under Texas law is intoxication assault.

Intoxication assault is typically applied when a person is accused of operating a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or amusement ride while intoxicated and, due to this impairment, their actions cause "serious bodily injury" (SBI) to another person.

Serious bodily injury is defined by Texas as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death or causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Intoxicated assault is a felony

Typically, intoxication assault is a third-degree felony charge, but there are exceptions.

  • The penalty for third-degree felony intoxicated assault is up to 10 years in prison with a 2-year minimum sentence.
  • The charge can be upgraded to a second-degree felony if the injured person was a firefighter or emergency medical personnel performing their duties or if the alleged victim suffers a traumatic brain injury that results in a persistent vegetative state. The penalty for second-degree intoxicated assault is up to 20 years in prison with a 2-year minimum sentence.
  • First-degree felony intoxicated assault applies if the alleged victim was a police officer or judge performing their duties. The penalty for a first-degree felony is up to 99 years in prison with a 5-year minimum sentence.

Options

Every case is different, but in general, those facing an intoxicated assault charge have options. Potential responses to the charge may include:

  • Pleading innocent and fighting for a not-guilty verdict or acquittal.
  • Pleading guilty.
  • Negotiating to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
  • If a guilty verdict is reached, depending on your circumstances, your lawyer may argue for a lighter sentence or an alternative to the incarceration program.

Talk to a Texas DWI attorney today

Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has a reputation for tearing down seemingly "solid" cases for prosecution. Attorney Webb knows the strategies the Montgomery District Attorney uses on intoxicated assault cases because she is a former assistant district attorney for the county office.

Discover what our law firm can do for you. If you have been charged with intoxicated assault or another DUI-type charge, contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and options. There are no obligations, and our conversation is confidential. For more information, call 1-800-395-5951. We're available 24/7 and would be happy to answer your questions.

Do Texans Want a Zero-Tolerance DWI Policy?

Hand rejecting alcoholic beer beverage

Survey results point to significant support, but what does that mean for your legal rights?

Despite the significant jail time, fines, and loss of license, there are many people in Texas who believe the state's DWI laws don't go far enough.

A new national survey asked more than 3,000 people if they would support "zero-tolerance" policies for drinking while intoxicated (DWI). In Texas, 43 percent of respondents say they are in favor of such a rule.

Zero-tolerance DWI or DUI (driving under the influence) charges are usually applied only to minors who are too young to legally drink alcohol. The rule would mean that the discovery of any alcohol in a driver's system is grounds for arrest.

Right now, the federal legal limit is 0.08 percent BAC (blood alcohol content). If it were reduced to 0 percent, then even drinking a small amount of alcohol an hour before driving could be considered DWI. With zero tolerance, it's even possible that using mouth wash - which is usually 14 to 27 percent alcohol -  before getting behind the wheel could be considered DWI.

DWI survey results

The survey, conducted by American Addiction Centers, polled public opinion on additional drinking-and-driving related questions. Other key findings include:

  • Nationwide, about 28 percent of people believe it is worse to use a cell phone while driving than it is to drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • 1 out of every 4 people say they would report a friend or family member who drives drunk.
  • More than 65 percent of survey respondents say drunk driving penalties are not harsh enough.

Texas DWI penalties

State-level data is not available for the DUI-penalty survey question. It would be interesting to see how Texans answered, though. Our state already has some of the harshest penalties in the country.

In Texas, a first offense DWI can lead to months in jail, thousands of dollars in fines, and loss of your driver's license for up to one year.

If convicted of a third offense (or more), the penalty may include up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

Punishment often doesn't end after someone completes their sentence, either. Frequently, a DWI on a person's record can stop them from getting certain jobs, professional licenses, loans, and admission to educational programs.

Montgomery County DWI arrests

Montgomery County, in particular, is aggressive about charging people with DWI. An early-April check of the Montgomery County Jail Current Inmate List revealed more than 70 people imprisoned on DWI unresolved charges and convictions.

The specific drinking-and-driving-related charges on the roster include:

  • Driving while intoxicated (DWI) - third (or more) offense
  • Intoxicated manslaughter
  • Driving while intoxicated with children in the vehicle
  • Driving while intoxicated/open alcohol container
  • Driving while intoxicated with a BAC over 0.15 percent

Many people on the roster are in for more than a DWI charge. Additional charges included allegations of drug possession, evading arrest, unlicensed possession of a firearm, harassment of a public servant, resisting arrest, assault, and theft.

Contact a Texas DWI Lawyer today or a free and confidential case evaluation

There is a lot on the line for people facing DWI in the greater Houston area. If the state were to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for adults, it would almost certainly result in some people's lives being ruined.

When facing drunk driving charges in Texas, it is important to have an experienced DWI attorney fighting to protect your freedom. Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer has been successfully defending clients against criminal charges for years. A former Montgomery County assistant district attorney, Attorney Webb has an insider's knowledge of how the local criminal justice system works. She knows the DA's tactics and how to defend people against them.

If you are facing DWI charges in the greater Houston area or elsewhere in Montgomery County, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer for a free case evaluation. At no cost to you, a member of our team will answer your questions, explain the charges and penalties you face, and help you weigh your legal options.

Do not wait. The sooner you call, the sooner we can start protecting your rights and your freedom. Contact us at our Conroe-based law firm today to schedule your free case evaluation. We are ready to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Can You Get a DWI on a Boat in Texas?

A group of men drink beer on a fishing boat in Texas.

Operating a vessel on Texas waters while intoxicated is dangerous...and illegal

Most of the time, driving while intoxicated charges stem from allegations that someone was operating their motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

However, in Texas, it’s possible to be charged with operating other types of vehicles and vessels while intoxicated – including engine-powered boats, personal watercraft, and sailboats.

More and more, people are facing Boating While Intoxicated (BWI) charges as the number of boating accidents has skyrocketed at destinations like Lake Conroe and Lake Houston. In 2020, Texas experienced 281 reported boating accidents, including 55 fatal boat crashes, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Alcohol was cited as a factor in about 30 serious Texas boating accidents in 2020, resulting in 35 injuries and 8 deaths.

Texas BWI penalties

If convicted, a BWI can result in serious penalties and affect your ability to operate a vehicle on water and land.

In cases where no one is injured, BWI is a misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum sentence of 72 hours confinement.

A first-time BWI conviction comes with a penalty of up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail. Third BWI convictions can result in up to $10,000 in fines and 10 years imprisonment.

More than just BWI?

BWI is not the only charge you can face while operating a boat in Texas. If you injure someone when you're operating a boat while intoxicated, you could be charged with Intoxication Assault or Intoxication Manslaughter. Even if you accidentally hurt someone, you can still be charged. Both are felonies.

You can also be charged with evading arrest if you try to escape the police in a watercraft.

Your license to operate a motor vehicle on land is automatically suspended if you are arrested for BWI, intoxication assault, intoxication manslaughter, or if BAC results show you have a level of 0.08 percent or higher.

Texas boating laws

Other Texas boating laws include “implied consent” and “stop and render aid.”

The implied consent law requires drivers and boat operators to submit to a BAC test if a police officer reasonably suspects them of drinking and driving. The standard for boating while intoxicated is the same as it is for DWI. Having a BAC (blood alcohol content) level of 0.08 percent or higher means a person is legally intoxicated.

Refusing to take a BAC test will most likely result in the suspension of your driver’s license for at least 180 days. For a lot of people, this suspension is preferable to creating evidence the police can use against them.

Texas also has a “stop and render aid” law that applies to boating. The statute requires vessel operators to stop and help accident victims unless doing so would endanger their own vessel, crew, or passengers.

Let a Texas BWI lawyer review your case

If you are facing BWI charges in Houston, The Woodlands, or Montgomery County, you can learn your legal rights and options during a free consultation with an experienced Texas BWI attorney.

Our law firm knows how to successfully defend boat operators and motorists in Texas, and we would be honored to speak with you about your potential legal case.

Contact us today.

Can I Get My Texas DWI Reduced to a Lesser Charge?

Law gavel, alcohol and car keys

A DWI Defense Attorney Explains Reduced Charges, Texas Plea Bargains

Texas has a reputation for harsh DWI penalties. So, it may be a little surprising to learn that it is among a minority of states where drunk driving suspects can plead down to lesser charges.

In most cases, your DWI defense attorney is going to work on getting your charges dropped or winning a favorable verdict. However, when circumstances make these outcomes unlikely, a plea deal may be an option worth considering.

Can Texas DWI charges be reduced?

The short answer here is, yes.

In general, county prosecutors are willing to reduce charges and make DWI plea deals because it saves their office and the court time and resources.

Still, it's not a good strategy to count on the prosecutor to come to you with an offer. In many cases, you need an advocate. An experienced DWI defense attorney is often necessary to investigate what happened, collect evidence, and negotiate for lesser charges.

Depending on the situation, a lawyer may be able to argue your DWI (driving while impaired also known as DUI) down to:

  • Obstruction of a highway, passageway, or roadway
  • Reckless driving
  • Public intoxication

Lesser Penalties

Reduced charges are not "get out of jail free" cards. They frequently carry their own significant penalties. These restrictions and punishments, however, are often preferable to DWI penalties.

DWI penalties in Texas are severe.

A first offense DWI conviction can be punished by up to 6 months imprisonment and thousands of dollars in fines. Texas will also suspend your license to drive.

DWIs usually cannot be expunged. This stain on your record can make your life more difficult. DWI convictions often make it harder to lease an apartment, get a loan, find work, or enter a trade or higher education program.

Meanwhile, obstruction of a highway, passageway, or roadway and reckless driving can both be punished by jail time and fines but can be expunged from your record. Public intoxication is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.

Arguing for Reduced Charges

A prosecutor is unlikely to offer you a plea deal if they think they have a solid case against you. A knowledgeable DWI defense attorney knows how to tear down flimsy "evidence" like breathalyzer results and prove the weaknesses in a DA's case.

Your attorney may be able to get a plea deal for you if the prosecutor's case is lacking:

  • BAC (blood alcohol content) test results from a blood, urine, or breath test
  • Physical evidence of alcohol consumption
  • Evidence that the alcohol you allegedly consumed significantly and negatively impacted your ability to drive
  • Reliable testimony

Plea deals are also often considered if a suspect's rights were violated during the arrest, search and seizure, or other law enforcement activities related to the charge.

When Your Freedom Is at Stake, Experience Matters

If you are facing DWI charges in the Conroe area or anywhere in Montgomery County, contact Amanda Webb - DWI Lawyer right away.

Attorney Webb is a former Texas assistant district attorney with insider knowledge of the system and years of experience that gives her an edge when defending her clients.

We offer free case evaluations to people facing DWI charges in Montgomery County and the surrounding area. At no cost to you, a member of our team will listen to the details of your case and help you weigh your legal options.

Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.