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.