Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving offenses committed by a minor child or young person under the age of 21. The Texas Legislature has created a separate offense for drinking and driving while under the age of 21 which is known as “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) of Alcohol as a Minor (also called DUIA)
For the purposes of this offense, the term “minor” is defined as anyone under the age of 21 years old. Different procedures are used to prosecute these cases depending on whether the driver is under the age of 17 years old and prosecuted in juvenile court, or whether the young person is over the age of 17 and goes to adult court.
Because a person under 21 years old may not purchase, consume, or possess any alcoholic beverage, any minor driving with ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle on a public street, can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor (DUIA by a Minor).
For the “DUI of Alcohol by a Minor” offense in Texas, the legal limit of .08 does not apply.
DUI of Alcohol as a Minor Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
If you were stopped by a police officer who suspected you of driving a vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage because you had ANY detectable amount of alcohol in your system, then contact an experienced DUI defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX.
We represent minors charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in Fort Worth and throughout Tarrant County, TX. We understand the important differences between DWI and DUIA in Texas. We also know how these cases for DUIA are prosecuted in the courtrooms in Fort Worth, Arlington, and throughout Tarrant County, TX. Call (817) 422-5350 to discuss your case today.
Elements of a DUIA in Fort Worth, TX
The first consideration in any DUIA case is whether the officer conducted a legal stop or detention. Before stopping your vehicle, the officer must have either reasonable suspicion or probable cause. If the officer believes you have any detectable amount of alcohol in your body, the officer can ask you to perform one or more field sobriety tests.
If the officer does not suspect you are driving while intoxicated (DWI) but nevertheless believes you have a detectable amount of alcohol in your system, then the officer can charge you with DUIA.
The charge will result in an arrest. You will be taken to the county jail and given an opportunity to submit to a breath test. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident, you might be taken to the hospital where the officer will ask you to submit to a blood test.
Length of the DUIA Administrative Suspension in Texas
A minor whose breath or blood specimen confirms the operation of a motor vehicle in a public place with ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system will have their driver’s license suspended for:
- 60 days for the first offense;
- 120 days for the second offense, and
- 180 days for the third and subsequent offenses.
If your driver’s license was taken and an administrative suspension was triggered, you should request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge to contest if the officer had probable cause to stop and arrest the minor or if there was detectable alcohol or controlled substance in the minor’s body. This hearing is known as the Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing in Fort Worth or Tarrant County, TX.
Refusal to Submit in a DUIA Case in Fort Worth, TX
If you were stopped for DUI in Fort Worth, TX, and asked to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test and refused that request, then you can face an even longer administrative suspension. A refusal can also result in a child under 18 being detained before an appearance in front of a Juvenile Court Judge. A person who is 18 to 21 can be arrested and held in the county jail until the bond is posted.
The driver’s license is suspension period after an administrative suspension for DUIA with a refusal includes:
- 180 days for a 1st Refusal
- 2 years for a 2nd or subsequent Refusal
Criminal Penalties for DUIA by a Minor Under 17 Years Old
If the person charged with DUIA is a minor child under the age of 17 years old then the following criminal penalties can be imposed if the child is found to be guilty of the delinquent conduct:
- A first (1st) offense is a Class C Misdemeanor – The penalties include a fine up to $500.00, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and a driver’s license suspension for 60-180 days. Attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course is required for the minor and may be required for the parent.
- A second (2nd) offense is a Class C Misdemeanor – The penalties include a fine of up to $500.00, 40 to 60 hours of community service, a driver’s license suspension for 120 days to 2 years, and attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course.
- A third (3rd) offense – For a minor child between the age of 10 years old and 17 years old who commits a third offense of DUI can face a fine of up to $500.00, 40 to 60 hours of community service, and a driver license suspension for 180 days to 2 years.
The penalties are slightly different for a person who is 17 years old to 21 years old at the time of the offense including:
- A first (1st) offense is a Class B misdemeanor – The penalties include a fine not to exceed $2,000.00, confinement in jail of 72 hours to 180 days, and a driver’s license suspension for one year. The suspension is reduced to 90 days if the court orders community supervision and an ignition interlock device is required. The court may not probate the jail sentence or waive the driver’s license suspension.
- A second (2nd) offense is a Class A misdemeanor – The penalties include a fine not to exceed $4,000, confinement in jail for 30 days to one year, and a driver’s license suspension for 180 days to 18 months.
- A third (3rd) offense is a felony of the third degree – The penalties include a fine not to exceed $10,000.00, confinement in the penitentiary for two to 10 years, and a driver’s license suspension for 180 days to two years.