Houston Underage DWI / DUI Lawyer
Underage Drinking While Driving
If you are under the age of 21, the DWI laws are more severe. You can be below the legal limit for an adult (a person 21 or over) and be charged with a DUI (driving under the influence). There is a zero tolerance law just for people under the age of 21. This law states that if a minor has "any detectable amount of alcohol in his/her system" while driving a motor vehicle, then they have committed DUI.
A DUI is classified as a class "C" misdemeanor. This means that you can not receive jail time and a maximum fine of $500.00.(for a first offense, for subsequent offenses you can receive significant jail time). However, along with this fine can be probation along with community service and alcohol awareness classes. Likewise, the Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a notice of suspension and try to suspend the minors drivers license in the majority of these cases. This license suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in adult cases.
In summary, a person under 21 is not allowed to drink any amount of alcohol and then drive a car. If an officer testifies that he/she smelled an alcoholic beverage on a minor's breath during a traffic stop, the minor will be cited for DUI. Again, this is true even if the officer feels the minor is both below the .08 legal limit and has not lost the normal use of his/her mental facilities, but has consumed "some or any" alcohol. If a minor's case is mishandled, it can have terrible long-term effects on the minor's criminal record and lengthy drivers license suspensions are likely. It is therefore very important that these cases are taken seriously.