What Happens If You Get a DUI Under 18 - Handling Underage Drinking on the Road
The offense of "driving under the influence," also referred to as "DUI" is only applied to individuals above the age of 21 in Texas.
Minors in the state are not subject to the 0.08% blood alcohol content legal limit for a DUI because it is unlawful for anybody at that age to even drink alcohol. Police can automatically file DUI charges against a youngster who is found to be drunk driving.
If a minor is found to have any measurable level of alcohol in their system and is operating a motor vehicle in a public space or a watercraft, they have committed an offense.
The underage driver in this situation should contact a DUI lawyer immediately to help prevent them from facing jail time.
Sparks Law has experienced lawyers who have spent years helping children who have made such mistakes. We believe in justice, but also believe that it should be used to make people better, not ruin them.
Underage DUI Penalties in Texas
Underage DUI carries serious legal consequences in Texas. The DUI laws in the state have different severity levels depending on the age and driving history of the offender.
1st Offense Under 17:
A first conviction for a person under the age of 17 is considered a Class C misdemeanor. This carries a $500 fine, a license suspension of up to 60 days, 20 to 40 hours of required community service, and receiving mandatory alcohol education. The court may order parents of an underage driver to accompany their child to DUI school.
1st Offense Ages 17 to 20:
It is considered a Class B misdemeanor first DUI offender is between the ages of 17 and 20. Their DUI charge includes up to $2,000 in fines, 180 days in jail, and a driver's license suspension of up to six months.
A second DUI offense is automatically a Class C misdemeanor. Furthermore, a driver's license suspension of 180 days to two years, a fine of up to $500, 40 to 60 hours of communal service, and an alcohol education course are among the punishments.
According to Texas underage DUI law, a third DUI arrest is considered delinquent conduct by a minor. Penalties can range from a fine of up to $500 to between 40 and 60 hours of required communal service. They can also have their driver's license suspended for two years.
It is quite evident that subsequent DUI arrests carry heavier criminal penalties.
Preventing a DUI Conviction or License Suspension
There are two ways for a person caught driving under the influence to get a reduction in license suspension installation. The court can either install an ignition interlock device to stop a car from starting, or through community monitoring. Additionally, the child has the right to ask for an administrative license suspension hearing within 15 days in order to appeal the suspension. The outcome of a preliminary alcohol screening test can also be disputed.
Implied Consent To Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Testing
In Texas, driving a car constitutes implicit consent to a drug or alcohol test. The police can ask a minor to take a breath or blood test if they are stopped for suspected drunk driving. They can only order a chemical test under specified conditions, thus this "implied permission" law does not mean the offender has no choice.
On a related note, learn what happens if you refuse a blood test for DUI.
Alternatives to an Underage DUI in Texas
It's important to understand that getting a DUI while underage won't mean the end of anyone's life. If they are found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, or even a Class A or B, they can participate in programs that won't have long-term effects.
A teen court is a viable option for minors who have been found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor. It is presided over by an adult volunteer or attorney and is made up of volunteer juveniles who have completed the curriculum themselves. The citation is dismissed once the program has been completed.
Deferred prosecution is another policy that can aid first-time offenders, particularly those detained for Class A or B misdemeanors. People who have already had a DUI conviction are not eligible for it. Counseling, making amends, and community service are all part of the curriculum. Charges against the offender are dropped if they succeed in these activities. There are risks, too, because if they drop out of the program, their conviction will stand.
A conviction when the offender was under 21 can be expunged from their records. This implies that very few people can officially get access to that information.
Hire an Experienced DUI Lawyer
Many persons who have been charged with DUI believe that their case is hopeless and they have little chance of winning. They decide to enter a guilty plea without seeking legal counsel or being aware of their defenses. A person should always contact dedicated DWI attorneys as soon as they can in such situations.
The minor's case can be evaluated by an experienced DUI defense lawyer, who can then decide the best way to proceed. An expert in DUI defense can help the offender and their family decide the best course of action in the case.
They can challenge the validity of a breathalyzer test or the reasonable cause for the arrest. First-time DUI offenders may occasionally qualify for a deferred judgment or several other alternatives to conviction and jail.
Contact Sparks Law Firm to Schedule a Free Consultation
Underaged DUI offenders or their guardians can reach out to Sparks Law Office as soon as possible for legal representation in Texas. Our reliable lawyers can help prevent the negative effects that a DUI may have on a child's life. We believe that the law should help reform kids after a mistake, not ruin their lives.
Clients can receive a free consultation with our experienced DUI lawyers to discuss the specifics of their circumstances. They provide essential counsel to help offenders avoid repeating an offense and fulfill their probation agreement. They can also help deal with questions such as how to get your car back after a DUI.
Call us at (817) 381-7846 immediately to set up a meeting.