Driving under the influence is a serious crime throughout the United States. Like many other states, Texas has implemented strict laws to prevent driving while intoxicated (DWI). However, unlike many other states, the penalties associated with DWIs are often much more severe and require immediate assistance from an experienced Texas DWI Attorney.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, a person commits the crime of driving while intoxicated when they are operating a motor vehicle in a public place, with a blood alcohol concentration exceeding 0.08%. Texas law is pretty straightforward and clearly expresses its stance against driving while intoxicated.
If the police officer suspects that an individual is driving while intoxicated, he or she will request that they submit to a breathalyzer test. The breathalyzer test will provide a reading of the individual’s blood alcohol concentration. If the person is found to be driving while above the legal limit, they will be subject to serious penalties, including: (1) fines, (2) community service, (3) imprisonment, and (4) more expensive car insurance.
Texas Underage DWI Attorney
If you have been charged with underage DWI in Texas, reach out The Benken Law Firm. We have extensive experience in all aspects of Texas DUI laws and can help you seek the best possible outcome in your case.
Call (713) 223 - 4051 to arrange a complimentary consultation with defense lawyer Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm. His legal team serves clients in Harris County including Houston, Sunnyside, Braeswood Place, West University Place and many others in the surrounding area.
- What Is The Difference Between DWI And DUI?
- What Are The State BAC Limits?
- Can A Minor Be Guilty Of DWI?
- Penalties Associated With DUI Charges
- Penalties Associated with DWI Charges
- Future Consequences
- Additional Resources
The lines between a DWI charge and a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge may be difficult to draw. However, it’s relatively simple. In Texas, only a minor can be convicted of a DUI charge. The reasoning behind this stems from the Texas Alcohol Beverage Code Ann. § 106.041, also known as the zero-tolerance rule. Under the zero-tolerance rule, a minor commits an offense if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.
Under the zero-tolerance rule, if a minor is found to have any alcohol contents in their system, they will face DUI charges rather than a DWI because a DWI charge only applies to individuals who exceed the .08% BAC limit. The reasoning behind the zero-tolerance policy is to educate and hold minors accountable for their wrongful actions.
The blood alcohol limits that determine whether someone is incapable of operating a motor vehicle vary from state to state. In Texas, the BAC limits are as follows:
- 21 Years or Older. If the individual is found to be driving while intoxicated and they are above the age of twenty-one (21), they will be subject to a BAC limit of 0.08%;
- Commercial Driver. If the individual is a commercial driver, there is no age limitation. For all commercial drivers, the BAC limit is 0.04%; and
- Underaged Minor. If the individual is under the age of twenty-one (21), they will be subject to Texas’ no tolerance limitation. Under the no tolerance limitation, anyone under the age of majority (21) will be charged with a DWI if they have any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Due to the zero-tolerance rule, there is a common misconception that a minor can only be convicted of a DUI charge. However, a minor can also be convicted of a DWI if they are found to be operating a motor vehicle with a BAC level exceeding 0.08%. Therefore, it is important to note that both DUI and DWI offenses committed by underaged minors are actionable, and the penalties associated with the charges will be enforceable in court.
As previously mentioned, Texas has strict laws against driving while intoxicated, and the penalties associated with the crime can be life-changing. The penalties associated with DUI charges can vary depending on the age of the minor, the BAC levels, and whether this was their first offense or a repeated occurrence. For starters, any minor convicted of a DUI offense can face penalties ranging from imprisonment to fines. The typical penalties associated with DUI charges are as follows:
If the minor is under the age of seventeen (17), they may be facing:
- Fines of up to $500.00;
- Up to forty (40) hours of supervised community service;
- A license suspension of up to 60 days; and
- Mandatory educational classes raise awareness of the dangers associated with driving under the influence. In most cases, the minor will be required to attend these educational courses with their parent or legal guardian.
If the minor is between the ages of seventeen (17) and twenty-one (21), the penalties will be as follows:
- A fine of up to $2,000.00
- A minimum year suspension of their driving privileges;
- And imprisonment of up the 180 days for first-time offenders.
It is important to note that prior offenses can have a significant impact on the severity of the sentencing.
If a minor is convicted of a DWI charge, they will be facing any of the following penalties:
- Suspension of their license for a period of up to one (1) year;
- Probation for a period determined by the judge;
- Fines of up to $4,000.00;
- Imprisonment for a period of up to one (1) year;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device;
- Supervised community service; and
- Mandatory educational classes.
In Texas, a DUI/DWI conviction can carry everlasting effects on an individual’s livelihood. For starters, any conviction involving driving under the influence can impact an individual’s ability to find employment, enroll in advanced educational programs, and achieve special licensing occupations. If someone is facing possible DUI/DWI charges, it is of paramount importance that they immediately contact a local attorney who specializes in DUI/DWI defense.
Addiction Support Group – Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting victims of drunk drivers and lobbying for laws against DUI/DWI.
Texas DWI Laws – The Texas Statute provides information on Texas law against DUI/DWI and provides detailed explanations of the crime and penalties associated with any offense.
Houston Underage DWI Attorney | Harris County, TX
Underage DUI charges can result in much more than driver’s license suspension. It can also impact various aspects of your life such as acceptance into college and difficulty obtaining employment. If you have been arrested for underage DWI, seek the experienced legal counsel of Houston defense lawyer Brian Benken at The Benken Law Firm.
No matter how grave or serious your situation may be, Mr. Benken has over 30 years of experience in criminal law and is prepared to advocate for your rights. If you reside in Harris County or any of the surrounding counties, call (713) 223 - 4051 today.