Criminal Liability for Providing Alcohol to a Minor

Drunk driving is a serious problem in Texas generally and Houston specifically. Indeed, statistics show that roughly 2% of people self-report that they drive after drinking too much. Harris County alone saw 3,544 DUI crashes in 2020, resulting in 235 serious injuries.

Texas law clearly holds intoxicated drivers criminally liable when they choose to get behind the wheel and drive. But Texas law also extends criminal responsibility to people and entities who supplied a drunk driver with alcohol. And this is true when the drunk driver was a minor.

If you have been arrested, please contact Attorney Tad A. Nelson today to schedule a consultation. Our Houston DWI attorney can carefully review the charges against you and determine the best defense.

Texas Laws on Providing Alcohol to Minors

Texas DWI Offenses - Texas LawThe legal age to purchase alcohol in Texas is 21. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.06 makes it illegal to purchase, give, or furnish alcoholic beverages to minors negligently. The law does not require that you do so with intent. Instead, being negligent—i.e., failing to use care—is sufficient.

But there are exceptions to the law. In particular, it is not a crime if the adult supplying the alcohol is the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse, so long as the adult is present when the alcohol is consumed. For example, you can let your child drink in your presence but you can’t send her on her way with a beer to go visit a friend. Another exception exists when the alcohol is provided for work.

When it comes to selling alcohol, Section 106.03 also makes it illegal if done negligently. But the defendant is not guilty if the minor presents an identification card that looks valid. This type of falsified identification could be a false driver’s license or passport.

Penalties You Face for a Conviction

Underaged Drinking and Texas Law

Providing alcohol or selling it illegally is a Class A misdemeanor under Texas law. A conviction for one count can net you up to a year in jail, a $4,000 fine, or both. If you provided alcohol to a social gathering where binge drinking took place, then you might receive community supervision and up to 40 hours of community service. Defendants might also have to participate in an approved program on alcohol awareness.

Of course, if the minor goes on to get into a DWI accident, then you could face civil liability to any victims injured in the crash. True, these aren’t criminal penalties. But this type of civil liability can be financially crippling for anyone who is forced to pay out five or six figures to cover a victim’s medical bills and property damage.

Please Speak to a DWI Attorney Today!

Call Attorney Tad A. Nelson

The fact that you didn’t drive a vehicle while intoxicated does not relieve you of liability if you supplied or sold alcohol to minors. Many people are arrested and face time behind bars for allowing young people to consume or otherwise access alcohol.

Our legal team will review the facts and help you seek a favorable resolution to your case. Please call us today at 713-489-7373 to schedule a free consultation with us.