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Minors Charged with DWI in Texas

Being charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) in Texas is a serious legal matter — especially for minors.  The ramifications of such charges can extend far beyond the courtroom, affecting educational opportunities, employment, your driver’s license and much more.

In these dangerous situations, you need an experienced and skilled Texas DWI Defense Attorney to defend and protect you.

What is Texas’ Zero Tolerance Law?

In Texas, if you’re under 21, even a tiny bit of alcohol in your system can cause legal trouble. Texas’ zero-tolerance rule aims to stop underage drinking and driving.

Under Texas law, a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 21. For these young drivers, being caught operating a motor vehicle on public roads with any detectable amount of alcohol can result in a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol by a minor (DUIA by a Minor). The standard for intoxication is much lower for minors than for drivers 21 and over. A blood alcohol content (BAC) as low as 0.02% — which could be the result of consuming just half a beer — can trigger legal action.

Penalties for DUIA by a Minor Under 17

For minors under 17 years old, the consequences of a DUIA can be particularly severe, reflecting the state’s effort to deter such behavior early on.

A first offense is classified as a Class C Misdemeanor, carrying penalties that may include:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • Community service ranging from 20 to 40 hours
  • A license suspension period of 60 to 180 days
  • Mandatory attendance in an alcohol awareness course for both the minor and their parent(s)

Penalties for DUIA by a Minor Age 17 to 20

The state of Texas classifies a DWI by a minor aged 17 to 20 as a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries stiffer penalties, including:

  • A fine of up to $2,000
  • Confinement in jail for 72 hours to 180 days
  • A possible 1-year license suspension, which may be reduced to 90 days if an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is installed

For minors who find themselves facing a second offense, the charges escalate to a Class A Misdemeanor, and a third offense is treated as a felony DWI, resulting in even more severe consequences.

Penalties for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors in Texas

The penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors are notably severe. For adults involved in such activities, the consequences are as follows:

  • Purchasing or Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor: Adults caught buying or providing alcohol to a minor face a fine of up to $4,000. Additionally, they may be subject to confinement in jail for up to 1 year.
  • Selling Alcohol to a Minor: Similarly, those who sell alcohol to minors are not spared by the law. This offense carries the same level of penalties as furnishing alcohol to minors, with potential confinement in jail for up to a year and a $4,000 fine. This includes vendors, retailers, and anyone else who might sell alcohol to individuals under the legal drinking age.

Defending Against Underage DWI Charges

Facing charges for underage drinking and driving can result in serious consequences for minors.  Luckily, a Houston DWI defense attorney at the Westbrook Law Firm, PLLC, can help present several defenses and protect your freedom and future.

Lack of Probable Cause for the Traffic Stop

Officers need concrete reasons to suspect an offense and pull you over.  Lack of valid reason for the stop can render evidence inadmissible in court.

Challenging Breathalyzer or Field Sobriety Test Results

Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests are common tools used to establish intoxication.  However, these tests are not always correct.  Issues such as improper maintenance and calibration of breathalyzer devices, as well as the subjective nature of field sobriety tests, can introduce doubt about the evidence.  A Houston DWI defense attorney can look at the administration and accuracy of these tests. The prosecution’s case can be undermined if flaws are identified.

Involuntary Intoxication

Though less common, involuntary intoxication can serve as a defense in cases where a minor consumed alcohol without their knowledge.  This happens when alcohol is added to a seemingly non-alcoholic beverage. This defense asserts that the minor did not voluntarily engage in alcohol consumption, which is a key element of underage DWI offenses.

Mistaken Age or Identity

In certain cases, the defense of mistaken age or identity may be applicable.  This could arise in scenarios where a minor is inadvertently served alcohol due to a mistaken belief by the server that the minor was of legal drinking age.  This defense only works if the minor did not intentionally deceive the server about their age.  Similarly, mistaken identity can be argued if there is evidence to suggest that the wrong person has been charged with the offense.

What Sets the Westbrook Law Firm Apart

  • Personalized Attention: Direct involvement with Mr. Westbrook at every stage of your case.
  • Clarity and Communication: Legal processes explained in understandable terms.
  • Flexibility: Meetings arranged to accommodate your schedule, including evenings and Saturdays.
  • Competitive Pricing: High-quality legal representation at reasonable rates.
  • Compassionate Approach: Every case is handled with care, understanding, and a focus on the client’s needs.

Contact a Houston DWI Defense Attorney Today

If you are under 21 and have been arrested for DWI, it’s critical to hire experienced and aggressive counsel as soon as possible.  Because the State’s burden is slightly less for a case involving a minor, you need a DWI Defense Attorney that will fight for you from start to finish.

Do not delay.  Call the Westbrook Law Firm at 281-888-5581 to schedule a free consultation.  You can also submit an easy, online request by clicking here.