In Texas, a cop can breathalyze a minor without parent consent if the minor has been in an accident, or if the cop has reason to suspect that the minor is drunk. This article will educate you about how Texas treats Driving Under the Influence (DUI) cases, and what you can do if you or your minor child has been arrested for DUI.
Texas Takes Drunk Driving Very Seriously
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS), if a police officer suspects that a driver is intoxicated, they may use a breathalyzer to determine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC). This is true regardless of the driver’s age. If the driver—again, regardless of age—refuses to take a breathalyzer or a blood test, they could be jailed and have their driver’s license suspended.
As far as the law is concerned, the act of driving serves as consent to taking a sobriety test. Minors do not have to have a BAC above the legal limit of 0.08 percent to be considered drunk. Any amount of alcohol is enough to justify the officer’s request for a test and arrest of the minor. All of this can be done without parental consent.
DUI vs. DWI
Although they may sound similar, under Texas law, a DUI is different from a DWI.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions are reserved for minors under 17 years of age. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) affirms that DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) is a more serious crime with stricter penalties. A minor may be charged with a DWI if they are between 17 and 21 years old.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
Minors convicted of DUI face a variety of penalties, even for a first offense. After the first DUI conviction, the driver may face
- Community service for at least 20 hours and as many as 40 hours,
- A fine of as much as $500,
- Suspension of their license for at least 60 days and as many as 180 days, and
- A mandatory Alcohol Awareness Course, which their parents may also be required to attend.
Each subsequent conviction carries similar but stiffer penalties.
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
DWI carries a mandatory prison sentence, in addition to heftier fines and longer license suspensions. Like with DUIs, DWI penalties become steeper with each subsequent conviction. After the first DWI conviction, a driver may face:
- A fine of as much as $2,000,
- Suspension of their license for as long as 1 year, and
- A prison sentence for at least 3 days and as many as 180 days.
Such penalties can be devastating for anyone, but especially for a minor. It is normal to feel scared and overwhelmed if you or your child are at risk of a DUI or DWI conviction. You may wish to consult a lawyer to make sure the minor’s rights were not violated, to help them avoid conviction, and to answer whatever legal questions you may have.
When You May Want to Retain a Lawyer
If your minor child has been charged with a DUI, you should seek legal help as soon as possible. A lawyer can help protect a minor’s rights in several ways.
First, they can review the circumstances and procedures of the arrest. Cops are subject to certain laws and rules of behavior. If the arresting officer violated any of those rules, the charges could be dropped all together. This will save the minor from having a conviction on their permanent record, which can affect their education and employment prospects down the line.
If getting the charges dropped is not possible, a lawyer could argue for a lesser charge that involves lighter penalties than a DUI or DWI. Being convicted of a lesser charge will save you time and money, and will enable the minor and their family to get on with their life sooner.
Just because a cop can breathalyze a minor without parental consent does not mean the minor has no rights. You deserve a lawyer who will fight hard for all of your rights. Randall B. Isenberg has over 30 years of experience in law. He has been a prosecutor and a state district judge, and now he is a criminal defense attorney ready and willing to work on your behalf.
Contact Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can start helping you get back on your feet.