In Texas, as in many other states, it is illegal for you to drink and drive if you are under the age of 21. The state uses your blood alcohol concentration level to determine if you are driving while intoxicated. If there is any amount of alcohol in your system that can be detected, you could be charged with DWI. You will also run afoul of the law if you are found to have an open can of beer or bottle of alcohol on the passenger seat of your car. In short, alcohol and driving do not mix, and if you think otherwise, you could be in for some serious legal difficulties.
How you can be arrested
You can be pulled over on the suspicion of DWI, like swerving from lane to lane, making a turn that was excessively wide, speeding or exhibiting other signs of erratic driving behavior. However, you might also be stopped for reasons that do not appear to have anything to do with drunk driving. You might have a headlight or taillight out, or an expired registration sticker.
The open container violation
The officer who stops you might see the open beer can that you forgot about in the anxiety of being pursued by flashing lights, and that alone represents a fine of up to $500: It is called an open container violation. As a minor, you could also be looking at having your driver’s license suspended for 30 to 180 days, and the judge might order you to perform eight to 40 hours of community service. You will also have to attend alcohol awareness classes. With a second or third offense, the penalties get tougher. For instance, if you are 17 or older, you could be fined up to $2,000 and sentenced to jail for up to 180 days.
Penalties for underage drinking and driving
For a first-time offense, you could receive a fine of up to $500 and your driver’s license might be suspended for up to 60 days. Attending an alcohol awareness class will be mandatory and you could also be required to perform 20 to 40 hours of community service. If you are charged with subsequent offenses, the penalties will increase.
Seeking legal help
There is no question about it: If you are a minor who has been charged with DWI, you should seek legal representation from a law firm that has a track record of obtaining the best outcome for cases like yours. Reach out to an experienced attorney who can develop a strong defense on your behalf.