What happens if a person under 21 is charged with DUI/DWI?

In Texas, people must be 21 to legally drink and possess alcohol. While it is unrealistic to think that underage drinking will not take place, the problem is made worse if it includes drinking and driving. The laws for driving while intoxicated (DWI) in the state are clear. There will be various penalties ranging from jail to fines to a driver’s license suspension. The circumstances will dictate how severe the consequences may be.

Texas uses a Zero Tolerance policy for those under 21 involved in an alcohol-related violation. There are specific punishments that can negatively impact their lives. Being in possession of alcohol when under 21 can be the catalyst for a fine of up to $500, a driver’s license suspension of up to six months, up to 40 hours of community service, and the requirement to take classes for alcohol-awareness. It does not matter how much alcohol the person possesses. If there is a second or third violation, the penalties worsen commensurately. For those 17 and older, a third offense can lead to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine. These penalties are simply for possession of alcohol. DWI is far worse.

Since people under 21 cannot legally have any alcohol in their system to begin with, the challenges are enhanced compared to a driver over 21. A DWI will be charged if the underage driver has alcohol in the system even if he or she would not be categorized as legally drunk via blood alcohol concentration as an adult. There can be a $500 fine, a 60-day driver’s license suspension, 20 to 40 hours of community service and alcohol-awareness courses. Along with the same penalties as listed above for people possessing alcohol when 17 or older, there can also be a driver’s license suspension for 90 days to a year. Getting caught after that leads to harsher consequences.

Those charged with DWI and alcohol-related violations when under 21 deserve the same type of robust defense as anyone else. Given the possibility that a DWI conviction can harm the person’s future with issues getting certain jobs, getting into schools and being allowed in the military, a legal defense is key. A firm with experience in all manner of DUI/DWI cases should be consulted with as soon as possible.