Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “What will happen to my sixteen year old son if he was driving while intoxicated and he was arrested for DUI? Will he go to jail? What other fines and penalties can we expect?”
Like all other states, the State of Texas considers all driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges to be very serious, and that includes those with a minor involved. Not only is it illegal for a minor to drink alcohol under the age of 21, it is also illegal for them to drive if intoxicated.
Unfortunately, despite the strict DWI laws in Texas, drivers under the age of 21 are involved in an estimated 14% of all DWI accidents. This is more astounding when you consider that drivers under the age of 21 account for less than 10% of all licensed drivers.
When is a minor intoxicated and unable to drive?
As mentioned above, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in the State of Texas. For this reason, if a minor is arrested and their blood alcohol concentration is above 0.00%, they can be arrested for a Texas DWI. States which have this type of law are called “zero tolerance” states.
So, to answer your question, if a minor has had one beer, one shot, or one glass of wine at a party they are too intoxicated to drive. It will not matter that the minor was able to safely operate their vehicle at the time of the arrest. The state will simply give them a blood alcohol concentration test, determine they have consumed alcohol, and arrest them for a Texas DUI or DWI.
Penalties for a Texas DWI vs. Texas DUI
In the State of Texas drivers can be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI). Intoxicated minor drivers may be charged with a DUI, which is considered a Class C driving offense.
First time DUI charges can result in fines up to $500, a license suspension up to 60 days, 20 to 40 hours of community service, and mandatory attendance in an alcohol awareness program. Minor drivers arrested for a second Texas DUI may receive 40 to 60 hours of community service, fines and penalties up to $2,000, a license suspension, and up to 180 days in jail.
Drivers under the age of 21 can also be charged with a DWI. For example, if your son’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of the arrest was over the illegal limit of 0.08% or higher, he may be charged with a DWI. Fines and penalties for a Texas DWI can include a fine up to $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, and a license suspension for up to one year.
Can a minor refuse the blood alcohol concentration test?
Minor drivers, just like adult drivers, have given their implied consent to submit to a blood alcohol concentration test if they are arrested for a Texas DUI or DWI. Minor drivers who refuse to submit to a test will have their driver’s license automatically suspended.
Other charges the minor might face after a Texas DWI arrest
If your son is arrested for a Texas DWI it might not be the only charge he faces. For example, minor drivers who are transporting other minors could be charged with child endangerment. Other charges could include distributing alcohol to other minors, minor in possession, false identification (if they used a fake I.D. to buy alcohol), and other moving car violations.
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