DWI and DUIA for Minors

Texas has tough alcohol related laws for minors. Minors can be charged as adults for alcohol and drug related offenses including DWI. The state of Texas has enacted laws to discourage drivers from drinking and driving. Texas, has established zero tolerance laws for minors who commit any alcohol related offenses.

Under Texas law, the term “minor” is defined as someone under 21 years of age. A minor may not purchase, attempt to purchase, consume, or possess an alcoholic beverage.

For purposes of DWI laws in Texas, if a minor has ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle on a public street, it is a criminal offense of Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor (DUIA by a Minor).

The 0.08% BAC legal limit of intoxication does not apply to minors. If the minor does not have a driver license, driving privileges are denied for the same period as the suspension.

DWI and DUIA Defense Attorney for Minors in Tarrant County, TX

If you or your minor child under the age of 21 years old was charged with DWI or DUIA in Fort Worth or the surrounding areas in Tarrant County, TX, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy in Fort Worth, TX.

Call (817) 422-5350 for a free consultation to discuss any alcohol-related crime charged against a minor child or any young person under the age of 21 years old.

Call us to discuss the criminal accusation against you, the potential penalties for that offense, and the most effective ways to fight the case for the best result. Call (817) 422-5350 today.


Texas Law for Drunk Driving by a Minor under 21

A law enforcement officer with reasonable suspicion of a traffic infraction or probable cause of a criminal offense may stop any vehicle. The DWI enforcement officer is permitted to ask the driver to perform one or more field sobriety tests. In the case of a minor, if the officer believes there is ANY detectable alcohol in the minor’s system, the minor may be:

  • the driver will be arrested;
  • the driver's motor vehicle can will be towed;
  • the arrestee will be handcuffed and taken to a police department or county jail; and
  • the arrestee will given the opportunity to take a breath test; and
  • the arrestee will be taken to a hospital or clinic for a blood test.

Under Texas law, the arresting officer is permitted to designate the test required. If someone dies or is seriously injured in an accident, a breath or blood sample can be required.


Texas Implied Consent Laws for Minors

A minor arrested for an offense committed while operating a motor vehicle or watercraft with ANY detectable amount of alcohol in their system automatically consents to the taking of one or more specimens by breath or blood. The specimens are analyzed to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence of a controlled substance, drug, or dangerous drug in the minor’s body.

A minor whose 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 license suspended for:

  • 60 days for the first offense;
  • 120 days for the second offense, and
  • 180 days for the third and subsequent offenses.

The minor may 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.


Suspensions for Minors Refusing to Provide a Specimen

Refusal to provide a specimen results in a driver license suspension. If the minor refuses the test, the minor may be placed in jail and held until bond is posted or until appearance before a magistrate or Juvenile Court Judge. The driver license is suspended (or privilege denied if unlicensed) for:

  • 180 days - 1st Refusal
  • 2 years - 2nd or subsequent

Refusal Offenses and Penalties DUIA by a Minor – Under 17 years of age

1st Offense (Class C Misdemeanor) includes:

  • a fine up to $500.00;
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service; and
  • a driver license suspension for 60-180 days.

Attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course is required for the minor and may be required for the parent.

2nd Offense (Class C Misdemeanor) includes:

  • a fine up to $500.00;
  • 40 to 60 hours of community service;
  • a driver license suspension for 120 days to 2 years; and
  • attendance in an Alcohol Awareness Course.

3rd Offense (Delinquent Conduct by Minor 10 – 17 years of age) includes:

  • a fine up to $500.00;
  • 40 to 60 hours of community service; and
  • a driver license suspension for 180 days to 2 years.

DWI by a Minor –17 to 21 years of age

1st Offense (Class B Misdemeanor) includes:

  • a fine not to exceed $2,000.00;
  • confinement in jail of 72 hours to 180 days; and
  • a driver 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 license suspension.

2nd Offense (Class A Misdemeanor) includes:

  • a fine not to exceed $4,000.00;
  • confinement in jail of 30 days to one year; and
  • a driver license suspension for 180 days to 18 months.

3rd (or Subsequent) Offense (Felony of the Third Degree) includes:

  • a fine not to exceed $10,000.00;
  • confinement in the penitentiary for two to 10 years; and
  • a driver license suspension for 180 days to two years.

Penalties for Non-Driving Alcohol-Related Offenses by Minors

In Texas, the term "zero tolerance" applies to the penalties for alcohol-related offenses not associated with driving. These offenses include purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol, falsely identifying as 21 years of age or older to a person engaged in the selling or serving of alcoholic beverages, and consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage.

The penalty for a non-driving alcohol-related offense or for public intoxication is:

  • 1st Offense (Class C Misdemeanor) includes:
    • a fine up to $500.00;
    • 8 to 12 hours of community service;
    • mandatory attendance in an Alcohol Awareness course; and
    • a driver license suspension for 30 days.
  • 2nd Offense (Class C Misdemeanor) includes:
    • a fine up to $500.00;
    • 20 to 40 hours of community service;
    • attendance in an Alcohol Awareness course; and
    • a driver license suspension for 60 days.
  • 3rd Offense (Conduct Indicating a Need for Supervision 10 – 17 years of age) includes:
    • a fine of up to $500.00;
    • 20 to 40 hours of community service; and
    • a driver license suspension for 180 days.
  • 3rd Offense (17 years of age or older but less than 21) (Class B Misdemeanor) includes:
    • a fine of $250.00 to $2,000.00;
    • 40 to 60 hours of community service;
    • confinement in jail up to 180 days; and
    • a driver license suspension for 180 days.

This article was last updated on Monday, April 24, 2017.

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