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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

What Happens If You Get a DUI under 21 - What to Understand

Drivers who are under 21 years of age cannot buy alcohol; Texas law ultimately makes it illegal for the underage driver to have any alcohol in their system. Overall, the zero-tolerance policy within Texas may result in fines, community service, or a license suspension. If a driver was lawfully arrested for an underage DWI, they risk jail time and other problems if convicted. It's best to contact a DUI lawyer in Fort Worth at Sparks Law Firm.

The professionals here understand the laws relating to a minor and can help people comprehend their rights while fighting a criminal conviction.

Under-21 DWI Laws for Texas

Under-21 DWI Laws for Texas

The driving while intoxicated laws in Texas depend on the driver's age. For the DWI laws, a minor is considered anyone under 21 years old. Texas has zero-tolerance laws in place for underage drivers. Therefore, a minor who drives with a detectable amount of alcohol in their system while operating a motor vehicle in public is guilty. They were driving under the influence of alcohol, which is often referred to as a DUIA.

Overall, any amount of alcohol is enough to get a minor DUIA charge, even with a 0.02 percent blood alcohol content. The driver does not have to show any change in mental or physical faculties or appear drunk. Consuming just half a beer could be enough to trigger that over-the-limit blood alcohol concentration.

If the police suspect that there's alcohol in the minor's system, they could be arrested and have their vehicle towed. A chemical test (breath or blood test) that indicates alcohol ensures that the driver's license is suspended for 60 days for that first offense. However, a second offense could result in a 120-day suspension, with a third offense seeing a 180-day license suspension.

Minors who refuse to submit to a urine, blood, or breath test may have a suspended license for 180 days, even if they were completely sober. By reading on, you will also find out how long you go to jail for a DUI.

Penalties for DUIA for Minors Under 17 (Up to 60 Hours of Community Service)

The first-offense DUI penalties are considered a Class C Misdemeanor if the minor is under 17. They may face a fine of $500, a license suspension of 60 to 180 days, and 20 to 40 hours of community service. Generally, they must take an alcohol awareness course, as well as the parent.

A second offense could carry fines of $500, community service hours (60), attendance in the alcohol awareness program, and a license suspension of 120 days to two years. Therefore, a DWI defense is crucial.

Penalties for DUIA for Minors Age 17 to 20 (Class B Misdemeanor)

A DUI by someone aged 17 to 20 is called a Class B Misdemeanor. They are under the legal drinking age of 21 but closer to it. The criminal penalties here could include a fine of $2,000, a one-year license suspension, and jail time of 72 to 180 days. The driver could be eligible to purchase an IID (Ignition Interlock Device) to have their license suspension reduced down to 90 days once installed.

A second offense is often a Class A Misdemeanor, so penalties may include 30 days to a year in jail, $4,000 in fines, and a suspended license of 180 days up to 18 months.

However, the third offense is a felony DWI. No amount of community supervision can bring back a minor's driving privileges at this time. They face fines of $10,000, imprisonment of two to 10 years, and a suspended license for up to two years.

Minor in Possession While Operating a Motor Vehicle

Even if the minor isn't driving, it's a criminal offense to have alcohol. In Texas, minors who possess an alcoholic beverage are guilty of a Class C Misdemeanor. Penalties can include fines, community service, and a license suspension of 30 days, with mandatory attendance in one or more alcohol awareness courses.

Other alcohol-related offenses for minors include:

  • Consuming alcoholic beverages

  • Falsely identifying themselves as 21 years of age to someone serving or selling alcohol

  • The attempt to purchase alcohol

Providing Alcohol to Minors

Adults who condone underage drinking and buy alcohol for a minor may face more serious charges. Furnishing or purchasing an alcoholic beverage is punishable by a jail sentence of up to a year and fines of $4,000. Selling alcohol to the minor is punishable by the same.

DWI vs. DUI Conviction

DWI vs. DUI Conviction

An underage client is likely to visit a lawyer to determine why they received the DWI charge.

Texas is similar to other states because of its zero-tolerance laws for drivers who are under the age of 21. Therefore, if a minor has alcohol and drugs in their system, it's illegal to operate a vehicle. The driver likely gets a DUI. However, that's only for those underage drivers with a BAC under 0.08 percent. Generally, if there's a detectable amount of alcohol upon arrest with chemical testing, they lose their driver's license for 60 to 180 days.

Longer suspension times are possible if the person refused to submit to tests. If the state convicts them of a DUI, there could be additional penalties, such as:

  • Fines of $500

  • Additional suspension of the driver's license

  • Community service

  • Mandatory enrollment for the teen and parent in an awareness program

Benefit from the Attorney-Client Relationship of a DWI Lawyer

The normal use of a vehicle indicates that the alcohol level is at zero percent at all times. An experienced attorney can help a client build a strong defense for their DWI cases and give them the best chance at having a favorable outcome to avoid a criminal record and keep their license. Having an excellent lawyer can make you worry less about what happens if you lose a DUI trial.

It's best not to consume alcohol when under 21 years old to avoid an underage DUI. However, people make mistakes that shouldn't hurt them for the rest of their lives.

While it's crucial to face the consequences, an attorney can work tirelessly to ensure that the law was upheld. Please call Sparks Law Firm for a free consultation. Any confidential information provided is protected, so no one else can learn of the situation.


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