Driving while intoxicated (DWI) and drunk driving charges should be taken extremely seriously under any circumstances, but it is particularly important for underage drivers to know that they will not get a break simply because it is a first-time offense or because they might not yet be 18 years old or 21 years old. To be sure, Texas allows minors to be charged as adults when it comes to DWIs and other alcohol-related offenses. Accordingly, even if you are a minor and you are charged with a DWI, you should know that you will be facing DWI penalties as if you were an adult. Texas does not make exceptions for minors or act leniently because a driver is a minor.
If you are facing underage DWI charges in Houston, you need to have a Houston DWI defense lawyer on your side to assist you with your case. We can work with you to ensure that you have a clear understanding of the following issues and consequences of an underage DWI, which will be central to your case.
“Underage” for DWI Purposes Means Under the Age of 21
In terms of charging a minor for a DWI in Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety emphasizes that the state has “established zero tolerance for minors who commit any alcohol-related offenses.” That zero tolerance policy applies to all minors in terms of alcohol consumption, which means that a “minor” in this context is anyone under the age of 21, which is the legal age for consuming alcohol.
Any Alcohol Consumption is Unlawful & Can Result in DWI Charges
It is not a defense to say or prove that you had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) under the legal limit of 0.08 percent if you are a minor. In any underage DWI case, any consumption of alcohol is unlawful and can result in DWI charges for a minor. Accordingly, even if you have a BAC of 0.01 percent, you can still face DWI charges.
Underage DWI Charges Do Not Mean Lesser Charges
To be clear, you should know that facing charges related to an underage DWI does not mean that you will face less serious charges than an adult. To be sure, you will face DWI charges that are just as serious as those an adult would face, and you can also face charges for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol by a Minor, or DUIA by a Minor. Under any underage DWI circumstances, you will face criminal charges.
A first-offense DWI is typically a Class B Misdemeanor that can result in jail time, a monetary fine of up to $2,000, and the loss of your driver’s license. Subsequent offenses, just like for drivers over the age of 21, carry additional penalties and can result in felony charges in some situations. The penalties for DUIA by a Minor are different for drivers under the age of 17, and those aged 17-21. In addition to DWI charges and DUIA by a Minor charges, an underage DWI might also include charges for non-driving alcohol-related offenses.
Contact Our Houston DWI Defense Attorneys
Anyone who is facing underage DWI charges needs an experienced Houston DWI defense attorney as counsel. Our experienced defense lawyers are here to help. Contact Tad A. Nelson, Houston DWI Lawyer today for assistance with your case.