Driving while intoxicated (DWI) can lead to harsh consequences for anyone, including minors. In 2017, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 16 percent of teen fatalities on the road were related to alcohol. Texas has implemented strict underage DWI laws to combat this issue.
If you or someone you know is a juvenile with DWI charges, it’s imperative you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. A criminal record so early in life can significantly affect your chances of gaining employment or pursuing your educational goals. If you’re convicted, you’ll also face expensive fines, license suspension, community service and even DWI school.
Don’t wait another moment when it comes to your future. Contact a skilled attorney so you can start your defense plan today.
Attorney for Underage DWI in Houston, Texas
Driving while intoxicated is a common charge for young adults that can drastically alter your life. College applicants with a criminal conviction can have difficulty getting into their desired university. In addition, you could face issues once you’re applying for jobs.
It’s time to stop worrying about what could happen. You can battle these charges by contacting a qualified attorney at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc.. We can create a strong defense for you utilizing our resources and knowledge.
Call us today at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a free consultation. We accept clients throughout the Harris County area including Houston, Tomball, Bellaire, and West University Place.
Overview of Juvenile DWI in Texas
- Texas Zero-Tolerance Laws
- Can A Minor Refuse DWI Testing?
- Penalties for Underaged DWI
- Teen Court in Harris County
- Additional Resources
Texas Zero-Tolerance Laws
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) reported in 2017 there were 5,198 alcohol-related crashes involving minors. Numbers like these have led Texas to implement a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers. This means the legal limit for minors has been lowered significantly.
Law enforcement uses chemical testing to measure blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). Texas has established a legal limit of .08 BAC for non-commercial drivers who are at or over 21. Minors are not given this option under Texas’ zero-tolerance policy. Instead, the legal limit for an underage driver is .02 BAC. This incredibly low limit was implemented to deter juveniles from drinking and driving.
Can a Minor Refuse DWI Testing?
A minor pulled over for drunk driving will undergo the same DWI testing as an of-age adult. Law enforcement uses chemical and field sobriety testing to determine your impairment level. Because of this, you are also subject to implied consent laws.
Implied consent laws state drivers are implicitly bound to chemical testing by law enforcement if they’re pulled over for DWI. This may sound intimidating, but you can still choose to refuse testing. A refusal, however, will result in an administrative penalty even if you’re a minor.
Minors who refuse testing will have their license suspended for:
- Up to 180 days for a first offense; or
- Up to 2 years for a second or subsequent offense
It can be daunting to say no to a police officer, but most attorneys recommend you refuse chemical testing. Complying with chemical testing means the prosecution will have concrete evidence against you. It will be much harder to contest your DWI conviction if you submit to testing.
The police officer will probably try an intimidate you by saying you’ll be arrested and have your license suspended if you refuse. However, what they won’t tell is you’ll be arrested and have your license suspended if you submit and fail. Unfortunately, there isn’t a win in either scenario. The best option is to refuse testing so you’re better prepared to fight your DWI in court.
If you submit to testing and fail, you can have your license suspended for:
- Up to 60 days for a first offense;
- Up to 120 days for a second offense; or
- Up to 180 days for a third offense
Penalties for Underaged DWI in Texas
Texas law isn’t kind to minors with DWI charges. If you’re a minor, you might not face the statutory penalties. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t face consequences. You might not be incarcerated in jail, but the judge may impose one of the following conditions on your sentencing.
- Substance and alcohol abuse treatment;
- Probation with conditions such as maintaining employment and attending school regularly;
- Restitution to the victim;
- Community service;
- Expensive fines;
- House arrest; or
- Placement in a juvenile home or detention facility;
Teen Court in Harris County, Texas
Texas provides minors an alternative options to juvenile court called Teen Court. The voluntary program was designed by Houston Municipal Court and volunteers for minors with class C misdemeanors. Teen Court is a courtroom run by teenage volunteers who are assisted by legal justice professionals.
You can choose to plead guilty or no contest, so your case will be adjudicated to Teen Court. The court will then deliberate a sentencing with teen jurors. Typically, the penalties in Teen Court are lighter including required jury terms at Teen Court. Depending on your situation, Teen Court may be the best choice for you. You could avoid harsh penalties such as expensive fines or DWI school.
Texas Laws for Underaged Drinking – Visit a document provided by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to learn more about DWI laws for minors. Access the brochure to learn more about the arrest procedures for minors, implied consent laws and juvenile DWI penalties.
Teen Court – Visit the official website of Houston’s Municipal Courts Department to learn more about Teen Court. Access the site to learn about the program’s purpose, requirements, process and contact information.
Lawyer for Juvenile DWI in Harris County, Texas
If you or your child has been charged with DWI, it’s crucial you gain legal representation. Minors still face harsh penalties which can include steep fines, community service and license suspension. The quicker you gain legal counsel, the higher the chances you’ll be able to reduce or dismiss your charges.
The attorneys at Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. are experienced in DWI law and have handled numerous juvenile DWI cases. We strive to protect the future of young adults and teen through quality legal service. Call (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case evaluation today.
Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. accepts clients throughout the Houston area including Uptown, River Oaks, West University Place and Pasadena.
This article was last updated on March 7th, 2019.