Underage DWI is a serious offense. Their tendency to participate in binge drinking, unfortunately, contributes to the number of fatal drunk driving accidents.
10% of licensed drivers are under the age of 21.
Minors are responsible for 17% of fatal alcohol-related crashes.
Underage Drinking Is Dangerous
- More likely to binge drink
- Less likely to wear seatbelts
- Tend to speed and drive recklessly
Americans under the age of 21 tend to drink more than adults do. Why? There are many reasons, though none are universal – trying to fit in, impress their friends, not knowing how much they can handle, etc.
The problem is such a large issue that the BAC of underage drunk drivers is usually much higher than that of an adult caught drinking and driving.
On average, the BAC (blood-alcohol content) of underage DWI drivers is 5 times the legal limit (.40 BAC).
Whatever the reason, underage DUI is not something your child should go through alone. If they are facing charges, it is best to contact a Fort Bend DWI lawyer immediately to get started on building a solid defense.
Consequences of an Underage DWI
Some states consider a BAC level of 0.2% or higher in any driver under 21 to be grounds for a DWI citation. Other states are harder on underage drunk drivers.
For example, North Carolina and Arizona have a “zero-tolerance” policy, which means that a BAC over 0% automatically gets you a DWI if you’re under 21. Texas is also a “zero-tolerance” state. If you’re a minor found driving with ANY alcohol in your system, you can expect to be charged with a DUI.
Underage DWI in Texas
- “on private, non alcohol-selling premises, with consent of a legal guardian — for example, with legal guardian’s permission at a party, or
- with consent of a legal guardian on alcohol-selling premises – for example, at a restaurant or catered affair.”
All other cases of underage drinking are 100% illegal in the state of Texas.
What’s the difference between DWI and DWI?
A minor CANNOT receive a DWI (driving while intoxicated). In the state of Texas, DWIs can only be given to adults over the age of 21.
Keep in mind that a DWI is a Class C Offense, including a fine of up to $4000 and may suspend your license for 1 year.
3 to 180 days
Up to 1 year
Up to $2000
Up to $4000
Up to 90 days
3 days to 1 year
Other penalties may include:
- alcohol abuse classes
- juvenile detention center
What if my child refuses the test?
Texas has an “Implied Consent” law, meaning that if a police officer has probable cause to believe you’re driving drunk, you consent to taking a chemical test to determine your BAC.
- The officer gets to choose which test you take, not you.
- Must be taken ASAP.
However, once you take the initial test, you are entitled to have a blood test taken within 2 hours of your arrest by a medical professional you choose.
If you still refuse to take the test, there are consequences. The first offense comes with 180 days of license suspension; the second with 2 years of suspension; and the third offense means your license is suspended for several years.
If you refuse, the officer will have you sign a statement that says he or she warned you of the consequences of refusal, asked you to take a test, and you refused. Then the officer will take your license. In its place you will get a temporary permit that is good for 41 days. Within the first 15 days you can request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your license. If you do not request a hearing, or if you do but fail to prove that the officer did not have a reasonable belief that you had driven drunk or that you actually did not refuse a test, then your license will remain suspended for 180 days if this is your first refusal. For your second or any subsequent refusal within ten years, the suspension will last for two years.
Get Help With Your Underage DWI Charges
If your child is facing underage DUI charges, the time to act is now! Conviction can cause many problems in your child’s life, including making college and job applications more difficult. Contact an experience Fort Bend DUI lawyer like David Hunter today to save your child’s future.