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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

What Are the Penalties for First Offense Zero Tolerance DUI? | Legal Questions Answered!

Facing drunk driving charges is a stressful experience. Texas has stringent DUI laws, which means that even first-time DUI offenders face serious penalties if they have been found driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or more. This typically applies to adults who are at least 21 years old, but what about minors arrested for driving while intoxicated?

The truth is that the state has a zero-tolerance law that governs the possession, use, or purchase of alcohol in minors in an attempt to prevent the number of accidents and deaths caused by drinking and driving.

This article will discuss what the zero-tolerance law is, and the penalties offenders will face if they are caught contravening it.

Texas Has a Zero Tolerance Law

Texas Has a Zero Tolerance Law

The consequences of drunk driving differ by state. Some states have rigorous restrictions and will impose harsh penalties for offenses that would be considered trivial in other states. Unfortunately, the laws in Texas are among the strictest in the country.

Zero tolerance means exactly that - there are no exceptions! This zero-tolerance regulation was implemented in response to the growing popularity of underage drinking, which often leads to drunk driving.

According to statistics, minors are more likely to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, which is why state law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying, possessing, or consuming alcohol.

This means that any minor caught with alcohol in their possession will be arrested, even if they have not consumed it.

What Blood Alcohol Concentration Is Considered Illegal for Minors?

Unfortunately, Texas laws governing underage drinking are very stringent, which means that if a minor is found with any level of detectable alcohol in their blood, they will be found guilty of contravening the zero-tolerance law and will be subject to penalties.

The Penalties for a DUI Conviction

As already mentioned, DUI offenses are taken very seriously in Texas. Anyone caught breaking these laws will be subject to harsh penalties. Here are the consequences of a DUI offense:

First Offense

The penalties for a first offense will differ according to the age of the offender.

Minors Under the Age of 17

First-time DUI penalties are classified as Class C misdemeanors. The following penalties apply:

  • The offender and his or her parents may have to attend an alcohol safety education program

  • A fine of $500

  • 20 to 40 hours of community service

  • Suspension of driver's license for two to six months

Minors Between 17 and 21

Minors above the age of 17 will face more stringent penalties as they are classified as Class B misdemeanors. Here are the consequences of violating the zero-tolerance regulation:

  • Fine of up to $2,000

  • Prison sentence of 3 to 180 days

  • One-year suspension of driver's license

Offenders could reduce their suspension period to 90 days if the court allows them to do community service and install an IID.

Second or Subsequent Offense

In addition to the penalties for first-time offenses, this article also includes some of the penalties for subsequent offenses. Here are the penalties for second offenses.

Minors Under the Age of 17

A subsequent offense is also viewed as a Class C misdemeanor, and offenders that face a second DUI arrest will be punished as follows:

  • Four-month to two-year DUI license suspension

  • Fine of $500

  • 40 to 60 hours of community service

  • Mandatory alcohol safety program attendance

Minors Between the Ages of 17 and 21

A second offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor, and the following punishments apply:

  • A fine of up to $4,000

  • Suspension of driver's license for 6 to 18 months

  • A jail term of one month to a year

Third or Subsequent DUI Offense

Third offenses often carry harsher punishments. Here's what offenders can expect.

Minors Under 17

The following penalties apply for a third offense:

  • Fine of $500

  • 40 to 60 hours of community service

  • A six-month to a two-year suspension of the offender's driver's license

  • Up to six months in jail

Minors 17 to 21 Years Old

A third offense is considered a third-degree felony in Fort Worth. Offenders face the following penalties:

  • Fines of up to $10,000

  • 2 to 10 years in a state prison

  • Driver's license suspension for six months to two years

If a person's DUI leads to the death or disfigurement of another person, the offender will be tried separately for each felony and will likely face a lengthy jail term. This applies whether the injury or death occurred as the result of a first-time or subsequent DUI offense.

The Penalties for Non-driving Related Offenses

The Penalties for Non-driving Related Offenses

Minors found purchasing or attempting to purchase alcohol, pretending to be over the age of 21 to purchase alcohol, or consuming or possessing alcohol will be subject to the following penalties:

  • First Offense - a fine of $500, 30-day license suspension, and 8 to 12 hours of community service

  • Second Offense - $500 fine, a 60-day suspension of driver's license, and 20 to 40 hours of community service

  • Third Offense (minors under 17) - fine of $500, 180-day license suspension, and 20 to 40 hours of community service

  • Third Offense (minors between 17 and 21) - $250 to $2,000 fine, 180-day license suspension, 180-day jail term, and 40 to 60 hours of community service

Facing DUI Charges? A Fort Worth DUI Attorney Can Help!

Texas has some of the strictest DUI regulations in the country. Minor drivers are subject to much stricter rules, which include zero-tolerance policies.

However, being charged with an underage DUI does not guarantee a conviction. Offenders can challenge these charges and protect their freedom with the help of a seasoned DUI lawyer. An attorney could argue that the traffic stop was unlawful or that there is a lack of probable cause.

The attorneys at Sparks Law Firm are experienced, knowledgeable, and well acquainted with the DUI zero-tolerance regulations in play in Fort Worth. They can also provide answers to other questions such as what happens if a police officer gets a DUI or how long a DUI affects your insurance in Texas.

To book a free consultation and case review or find out more about zero-tolerance DUI regulations, contact Sparks Law today by dialing (817) 381-7846 or completing the online form!


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