Texas prohibits minors under 21 years of age from possessing or consuming alcoholic beverages. The state also prohibits all motorists from driving while they are under the influence of alcohol, regardless of age.
However, the standard for arrest in drunk driving cases is much lower for minors than it is for adults. If your child has been charged with one of these crimes, he or she could be facing possible fines, driver’s license suspension, and even jail time in certain cases.
Underage DWI Defense Lawyer in Denton, Frisco, Lewisville, Flower Mound, TX
Was your child recently arrested for allegedly driving while under the influence of alcohol? You will want to seek legal counsel as soon as possible for help in achieving the most favorable outcome for his or her case.
The Denton County underage DWI attorneys at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy fight on behalf of alleged juvenile offenders throughout the greater Denton area, including Little Elm, The Colony, Flower Mound, and many other nearby communities. Our firm will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (940) 222-8004 to schedule a free, confidential consultation.
Underage DUI Charges in Texas
The type of criminal offense that your child is charged with depends on what his or her alcohol concentration was at the time of his or her arrest. There are two different types of drunk driving charges that apply to minors under 21 years of age:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol by Minor, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code § 106.041 — A minor commits this offense if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in his or her system. This crime is classified as a Class C misdemeanor.
- Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), Texas Penal Code § 49.04 — A minor commits this offense if he or she is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Intoxicated is defined as the alleged offender either not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol into the body or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. This crime is classified as a Class B misdemeanor, but an alcohol concentration level of 0.15 or more makes this a Class A misdemeanor.
Underage DWI Penalties in Denton
Regardless of whether a minor has been charged with DUI or DWI, he or she is subject to automatic suspension of his or her driver’s license. Alleged offenders only have 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing to contest any suspension.
The length of time that a license will be suspended varies by whether he or she has been previously convicted and whether he or she submitted to testing of his breath, blood, or urine:
- Refusal to Provide Specimen, First Offense — Driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 180 days
- Refusal to Provide Specimen, Second or Subsequent Offense — Driver’s license suspended for a minimum of two years
- Provided Specimen, First Offense — Driver’s license suspended for a minimum of 60 days
- Provided Specimen, Second Offense — Driver’s license suspended for minimum of 120 days
- Provided Specimen, Third or Subsequent Offense — Driver’s license suspended for minimum of 180 days
In addition to the loss of driving privileges, an alleged juvenile offender also faces additional penalties if he or she is convicted of or pleads guilty to an underage DUI or DWI offense. The possible sentence depends on the specific charge and whether the minor has been previously convicted of a drunk driving offense, but punishments can include any of the following combinations for respective offenses:
- First DUI — Fine of up to $500, minimum of 20 hours up to 40 hours of community service, mandatory alcohol awareness classes
- Second DUI — Fine of up to $500, minimum of 40 hours up to 60 hours of community service, mandatory alcohol awareness classes
- Third or Subsequent DUI — Fine of up to $2,000, minimum of 20 hours up to 40 hours of community service, up to 180 days in jail
- First DWI — Fine of up to $2,000, up to 200 hours of community service, up to 180 days in jail, DWI Education Program, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)/deep lung device (DLD)
- Second DWI — Fine of up to $4,000, up to 200 hours of community service, up to one year in jail, DWI Intervention (Repeat Offender) Program, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)/deep lung device (DLD)
- Third or Subsequent DWI — Fine of up to $10,000, up to 1,000 hours of community service, up to 10 years in prison, DWI Intervention (Repeat Offender) Program, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID)/deep lung device (DLD)
Texas Alternative Resolutions for Underage DUI Offenses
Unlike adults who are facing charges relating to drunk driving in traditional criminal court, minors may have other options for resolving their cases. Two such options can include:
- Teen Court — This is a voluntary peer accountability program for alleged offenders between the ages of 10 and 17 (or 18 if they are still in high school). The program’s staff includes an adult teen court coordinator, guest judge, teenaged bailiffs, prosecutor, defense counsel, and jury. Teen Court hearings and trials are not used for determining guilt or innocence, but rather appropriate community service sentences. Thus, participation is based on an admission of guilt.
- Deferred Adjudication — Also referred to as deferred prosecution or deferred disposition, a judge withholds entering a verdict while the alleged juvenile offender enters a probationary period in which he or she must comply with certain requirements, such as counseling, community service, and/or restitution. If the alleged offender successfully completes the probationary period, his or her case will be dismissed without a conviction on his or her record, but failure to comply with or abide by the terms of the probation can result in the judge imposing the maximum legal sentence.
Find A Denton County Defense Attorney for Underage DWI Charges | Law Office of Richard C. McConathy
If your child has been arrested for a drunk driving offense in Texas, make sure that he or she has experienced legal representation. Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy aggressively defend minors throughout North Texas, including Grapevine, Westlake, Denton, and many surrounding communities.
Richard C. McConathy has handled hundreds of these types of cases and can determine the best way to have charges significantly reduced or completely dismissed. Let our Lewisville underage DUI attorneys review your case by calling (940) 222-8004 today for a free consultation.