If you are under the legal drinking age of 21 and drive under the influence in Texas, you could face serious consequences. Not only do young adult and teen drivers cause a disproportionate amount of DUI-related car accidents and fatalities, but they also face stricter standards and harsher penalties. Learn about the laws and penalties for underage DUIs in Texas and how to stay safe.
Texas laws are tough on DUIs
All states consider it illegal for anyone to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, but the laws are stricter for underage drivers, especially in Texas. Most states penalize underage drivers with a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher with a DUI, but Texas is one of the few states with a zero-tolerance rule. This means any Texas driver under 21 who shows a BAC above 0.00 percent from a chemical test can be cited with a DUI.
Underage drunk drivers are charged with DUIs instead of adults over 21 who are charged with DWIs. A first-time DUI may result in:
- $500 fine
- 60-day license suspension
- Community service
- Alcohol-awareness class
Drivers ages 17 to 20 who have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher can face stronger penalties. These drivers face up to $2,000 in fines, between three and 180 days in jail and a license suspension of 90 days to one year.
Some drivers who get pulled over refuse to take the chemical tests required to show their BAC. Texas law requires those who are lawfully arrested and under probable suspicion for drinking and driving to take the tests. Refusing to do so results in a license suspension of at least 180 days. Repeat refusals can lead to a suspended license for two years.
Effects on your future
The consequences of getting a DUI are numerous and affect your future career and education. DUIs affect your criminal record and may need to be disclosed on job applications and college applications. Failing to disclose this information can result in losing financial aid, losing rights and sometimes being charged with perjury.
There are more complex rules and penalties regarding underage drinking and driving. If you or your child has been cited with a DUI, it is helpful to obtain advice from a DUI defense attorney who handles underage DUI. Getting advice before moving forward with a plea bargain is key. An underage DUI defense attorney may be able to help get charges reduced or dismissed.