Drivers in Dallas under the legal drinking age of 21 who are cited or charged with DUI for driving while under the influence face harsh penalties. Because Texas legislatures want to strongly discourage underage drivers from driving while intoxicated, the standards for drivers under age 21 are stricter than they are for drivers age 21 and older. When an underage driver drives with any amount of alcohol — even a mere blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.01 — she can face DUI charges.
If you or your child was recently charged with a DUI, call an under 21 DUI lawyer in Dallas today at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg for more information about how to best proceed with your case: 214-696-9253.
What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI in Texas?
Texas is one of the few states that recognizes separate and distinct DUI and DWI offenses. The primary factor that determines which of the two offenses police cite the driver with is the driver’s age.
DWI: Any driver who is caught drinking and driving in Texas may face DWI charges when the driver’s BAC is 0.08 or higher. This includes both drivers over and under the age of 21. First-time DWIs are Class B misdemeanors.
DUI: When underage drivers operate a vehicle while under the influence, the police may opt to cite them with a DUI. First-time DUI charges are a Class C misdemeanor, a slightly lesser offense than DWI.
How does Texas define driving under the influence?
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and driving. As such, an underage driver can face DUI charges even if their BAC is well below 0.08. Any trace of alcohol — anything over 0.00 BAC — can result in DUI charges.
Texas Code Sec. 106.041(a) states that “a minor commits an offense [of Under 21 DUI] if the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place… while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.”
What are the penalties and consequences for DUI in Texas?
While not as harsh as DWI penalties, the penalties for a first- and second-time DUI still cause a deal of inconvenience. The penalties can include:
- Up to a $500 fine;
- A 60-day license suspension; and
- Twenty to 40 hours of community service related to education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.
The penalties increase when the underage driver has two or more DUI convictions on his record.
You will also have car insurance matters to contend with. After the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reinstates your license, you will need to give the DPS an SR-22 certificate as proof of insurability.
Of course, you can also expect to see a change in your insurance premiums. Most insurance companies will increase your monthly premiums to account for the increase in risk that DUI drivers impose. The increase could last from three to five years. Some companies even cancel the policy entirely when their insured receives a DUI conviction.
And the above penalties do not even touch on the ripple effect a DUI can have on your education and future career. A DUI conviction will be a mar on your criminal record that you may need to disclose on college and job applications. College and university students may be refused admission or face expulsion, lose financial aid, and get kicked out of student organizations. Employers may terminate your employment and you could find it harder to get a job with a DUI on your record.
Our underage DUI lawyers in Dallas at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can explain exactly what you are up against, what the DUI process entails, and how our firm can try to reduce the penalties or get the case dismissed altogether.
What other alcohol-related charges might an underage driver face?
Oftentimes, underage drivers get in trouble for more than just DUI. Many of our DUI clients have also faced simultaneous charges such as:
- Minor in possession of alcohol
- Possession of false identification
- Soliciting alcohol
- Child endangerment
- Other moving violations
If you had underage passengers in the car with you that had been drinking, you may also face charges of distributing alcohol to other minors. And of course, if your BAC was 0.08 or over, it is up to the officer’s discretion as to whether to charge you with DUI or DWI. They will often just slap underage drivers with a DWI, although some compassionate officers will cite you with a lesser DUI instead.
Obtain legal advice before paying any fines or going to court. Speak to one of our underage DUI lawyers about your case. There are various complex rules regarding underage DUIs that our lawyers can help you sort out. Plus, we might be able to help you plea bargain and reduce the charges or penalties.
Get a FREE legal consult with a DUI lawyer in Dallas.
Regardless of the exact nature of the alcohol-related charges, the unfortunate reality about the criminal justice system is that once you get caught up in it, it is hard to get untangled from it.
Our DUI lawyers have handled numerous DUI cases for underage drivers in Dallas with excellent outcomes. When you work with us, we will protect your rights, advocate for your best interests, and stand alongside you throughout the entire process. Call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at 214-696-9253 to discuss your or your child’s DUI charges and how to move forward.