Because the drinking age in Texas is 21, it stands to reason that any person under this age who chooses to drink any amount of alcohol and drive will face a number of criminal penalties. Texas law enforcement agents and prosecutors take underage drinking seriously, so it is important to work with a driving while intoxicated (DWI) lawyer who can prepare an effective defense in an effort to help you or your child avoid a life-altering drunk-driving conviction.
Due to the state’s Zero Tolerance laws, which make it illegal for underage drivers to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system, individuals under the age of 21 can face a DWI charge for having a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02% or higher. To put this in perspective, just one beer or glass of wine could put the average person over .02%. The underage limit is much lower than the standard BAC of .08% for drivers over the legal drinking age.
For a BAC between .02% and .08%, minors could be charged with an Under 21 DWI offense. However, underage drivers arrested with a .08% BAC or higher could face a regular DWI offense in addition to an Under 21 DWI, resulting in more serious penalties such as jail time or probation.
Immediately after being arrested for an Under 21 DWI, the first thing you must worry about is the administrative license penalty. You have only 15 days to request a hearing from the Department of Public Safety or risk getting your license automatically suspended for 60 days on the 41st day after your drunk-driving arrest.
If convicted of Under 21 DWI in criminal court, the judge could sentence you to perform 40 hours of community service, pay up to $5,000 in court fines, and complete a mandatory alcohol education program.
Other consequences could include increased insurance rates, once your auto insurer learns about your DWI conviction, and a permanent criminal record. With a DWI on your record, you will face problems when applying for schools or employment in the future.
As a young person, you have so much to lose if convicted of an Under 21 or standard DWI offense. Fortunately, Attorney Ken Gibson has helped a number of underage clients successfully avoid a guilty verdict so they could begin their lives with a clean slate.
To learn if Mr. Gibson can help you, please make an appointment with our office today for your free DWI case evaluation.