DWI and the ‘Under-21 Crowd’
Although drinking is illegal for young men and women under the age of 21, the reality is quite different. Often kids are drinking and getting drunk as early as their middle school years – and you can be sure that drinking is a problem on campuses around the country including our own state of Texas where the average age range of students is 17 to 21.
However, it is only when a ‘minor’ is stopped by police for suspected drinking and driving that the expertise of a Houston DUI attorney is required. You see, for adults the legal limit for alcohol content in the blood is 0.08% but for the ‘under-21 crowd’ there is zero tolerance for any level of alcohol in the blood system.
Zero Tolerance In Texas
According to Texas law the presence of any amount of alcohol in a minor’s bloodstream is a legal offense and the individual is subject to any number of court actions. For instance, the minor may be required to relinquish their driver’s license for up to 2 months. In addition, he or she may subject to fines of up to $500 for a first offense. Additional punitive measures may include forced participation in an alcohol education class and upwards of forty hours of community service such as speaking to other teens about the dangers of drinking and driving or simply visiting individuals who sustained grievous injuries as a result of a DWI.
Often today’s youth are unaware that they can find themselves in trouble with the law just for having alcohol in their possession. Punishments are similar to those of a DWI.
If a minor male or female is stopped for a suspected DWI and his or her blood alcohol content level is at the legal limit for intoxication (or higher) then the punishments meted out grow exponentially. Fines can increase up to $2000 and driving privileges may be suspended for anywhere from 3 months to an entire year. In addition, the minor is looking at jail time which could be serious. He or she could be sentenced to six days at the least and as much as 6 months in more serious cases. Of course, this also depends on what level of punishment the crime warrants in the eyes of the judge.
Finally, there are other extenuating circumstances that can increase the amount of legal trouble a minor faces in the case of a DWI. For instance, if the minor was driving while intoxicated and had a child in the car then the severity of the sentence can be expected to increase. In fact, if a minor is convicted of a DUI and a child under the age of 15 was a passenger then he or she could be confined to prison for up to 2 years and fined up to ten thousand dollars.
Too, if the minor caused bodily injury or death to another individual as a result of their drunk driving behavior then jail terms could reach 10 to 20 years and although fines may be capped at $10,000 by the court – expect civil suits to follow.
Parents, remind your minors often not to drink and drive. If you have more questions about juvenile DWIs, speak to our Houston criminal defense lawyers today.