Texas has zero tolerance for minors drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol. A DWI conviction may mean facing potential time behind bars. In addition to spending days in jail, operating a vehicle while under the influence could lead to a driver’s license suspension and hefty fines. For underage drivers, a criminal record could negatively affect their lives in many ways. You could struggle to get a job or rent an apartment. Colleges can reject your application. You could even get turned down for student loans.
The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg understands how important your case is to your future. An underage DWI lawyer in University Park will fight to have the criminal charges you face reduced or dismissed. Contact our Texas criminal defense law firm for a no-cost, no-obligation confidential consultation and case review.
Underage DWI Charges Carry Harsh Penalties
Texas law defines DWI as operating a vehicle in public with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or above. Minors can face driving while intoxicated charges as an adult in Texas. In addition, any detectable amount of alcohol in a person younger than age 21 can result in criminal offenses.
Even if you are a first-time DWI offender, you will face at least a Class B misdemeanor for this charge, and punishment can include:
- Jail time of up to 6 months (180 days);
- A monetary fine of up to $2,000; and/or
- A suspended driver’s license for up to 1 year.
If you have a prior drunk driving conviction, you could face Class A misdemeanor charges. Your charges may also increase if any aggravating circumstances apply to your arrest. Aggravating circumstances include having a BAC of at least 0.15% or supplying alcohol to a minor.
A conviction for a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by:
- Jail time up to 1 year,
- A monetary fine of up to $4,000, and/or
- A suspended driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Offenders with three or more subsequent DWI offenses, a third-degree felony, could pay a fine up to $10,000, prison time between 2 to 10 years, and a driver’s license suspension for up to 2 years.
Felony Drunk Driving Charges in University Park, TX
If you are arrested for subsequent underage DWI offenses, you will face felony drunk driving charges. These charges could send you to prison for 10 years or more. If you caused a drunk driving accident with injuries or a fatality, you could face more serious charges. These include charges of intoxication assault or intoxication manslaughter.
Along with fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension, you could face penalties that include:
- Community service,
- Alcohol treatment or education courses, and/or
- Having an ignition interlock installed in your car.
For an underage driver, the most serious aspect of a DWI conviction is the permanent criminal record. It can prevent you from gaining admission at a good college or university. It can also prevent you from getting student loans, grants, scholarships, and professional licenses. Potential employers and landlords can use your record as a reason to deny your future applications, as well. You can even expect to pay higher car insurance premiums.
The Benefits of Having an Underage DWI Lawyer in University Park, TX, on Your Case
You may believe that pleading guilty will put your drunk driving case behind you. However, for most young offenders, that is not the case. Even if you avoid going to jail for underage drinking, you will still face the other penalties described above.
A University Park underage DWI lawyer in University Park like attorney Randall Isenberg can help you fight these serious charges. Our legal team will protect your legal rights and build the strongest possible case in your defense. We could negotiate a plea to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Our priority is to fight for your future and minimize the legal ramifications of the charges.
We will begin by investigating your case thoroughly. This includes looking for potential violations of your rights or mistakes made by the police. We can also examine the evidence prosecutors have and how they obtained it. This includes witness statements, surveillance from cameras, including traffic cameras, and police reports. We can use any issues we find as leverage to negotiate with the prosecutor. This can result in having your charges reduced or dismissed.
Our legal team serving University Park, TX, will develop legal strategies based on the details of your case. Some common defense strategies we use for underage DWI cases include:
Lack of Reasonable Suspicion
Police officers must have a reasonable suspicion that you broke the law before pulling your car over. If we can demonstrate that the officers did not establish reasonable suspicion, we can argue to have your DWI charges reduced or dismissed.
Lack of Probable Cause
Officers use field sobriety testing or a portable breathalyzer to determine probable cause. Typically, officers ask drivers to perform one or several of these tests. In these circumstances, we will evaluate the tests to determine if the police made any mistakes. If the police did not legally establish probable cause, it may provide grounds for having your case thrown out.
BAC Testing Errors
In Texas, police officers usually test underage DWI suspects to determine BAC. The two most common procedures are breathalyzer testing and blood testing. Both types of testing carry a risk of mistakes that could get you convicted in error. We will examine the results and procedure to determine whether the technician or lab committed errors.
Understanding the Difference Between DUI & Underage DWI
Sometimes young drivers facing underage DWI charges confuse this serious crime with DUI.
Individuals under the age of 21 cannot legally consume alcohol. If you are under the age of 21, the police can charge you with DUI if they catch you driving with any trace of alcohol in your system. A DUI charge carries substantially less harsh penalties than underage DWI.
If we cannot convince the prosecutor to drop your DWI charges, we may negotiate to lower your charges to underage DUI. This may make you eligible to participate in a diversion program. Upon completion of your obligations, this allows the court to dismiss your charges and clear your record.
Navigating the Driver’s License Suspension Hearing for Underage DWI
You will also face a civil proceeding that determine the disposition of your driver’s license. The Administrative License Revocation (ALR) process gives you the opportunity to make a case against license suspension.
Our legal team will also represent you during your ALR hearing. We will schedule your hearing and prepare you for giving testimony. We will also obtain all available evidence to help us prepare for both the ALR hearing and your criminal case.
If the judge chooses to suspend your license, we can appeal that decision. Alternatively, an attorney can request that the court grant you a provisional license. A provisional license lets you drive to work and school until you get your full license restored.
Contact an Underage DWI Lawyer in University Park, TX, Today for Free
Don’t wait to start contesting an underage DWI charge. This offense puts your future into question, so we advise you to reach out to our University Park criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg provides a free initial consultation and case review.
To learn more, call us today to get started. We’re ready to offer legal advice that protects your legal rights and future and help you navigate the criminal justice system for the best outcome for you and your family.