A minor can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) but is often charged with driving under the influence (DUI), which is a lesser offense.
However, depending on the situation and officer discretion, a minor can get a DWI. In fact, the state of Texas has no problem with charging a minor as an adult for alcohol-related infractions like DWIs if the minor has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. Whether you receive a DUI or DWI charge, it can have serious legal repercussions and leave a mark on your record.
DUI Versus DWI
Any minor caught operating a vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system is committing an offense. This DUI charge is a Class C misdemeanor.
However, this charge and the punishment for it can be more severe if said minor has been convicted of similar crimes before. Being convicted twice under laws in this section can lead to fines of $500 to $2,000, jail time of up to 180 days, or both. A judge could also require a minor to perform community service as a part of their restitution.
Rising to a DWI Charge
As we mentioned, however, it is also entirely possible for a minor to get a DWI. This is a more serious charge that can carry heavier penalties. A minor is charged for a DUI for having any alcohol in their system while they operate a motor vehicle. A DWI charge requires them to have a BAC of 0.08%. It is at this point that the law considers you impaired and a danger to others, regardless of your age. If you meet the blood alcohol concentration criteria, being a minor will not prevent you from being charged with a DWI.
Now that you know that a DWI charge is not unheard of for minors, it is important to learn about the legal consequences of being charged with a DWI. Punishments can include:
- Fines: The first DWI offense on its own can come with a $2,000 fine. A second offense can carry a $4,000 fine, while a third offense can result in up to a $10,000 fine. Other extenuating circumstances, like the presence of an open container in your vehicle, can mean even higher fines.
- Jail time: A first DWI offense can result in up to 180 days in jail, and the length of prison terms can continue increasing based on the number or severity of DWI charges a person has received.
- Loss of license: A DWI can result in a loss of your driver’s license for a certain amount of time. A DUI can also result in a minor losing their license for 60 days. Think about how inconvenient it would be to need a ride to work, the grocery store, or anywhere else you need to go for months or even years because you lost your license.
Other circumstances can also add to the legal consequences. If an impaired driver injures someone, that can mean additional jail time or even liability in civil court. It is also important to note that, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a minor automatically consents to a breath or blood sample. If they withhold the sample, that could mean a longer suspension of their license and other penalties.
Unfortunately, there are not just legal consequences to worry about when you have been charged with a DWI. Even as a minor, you may have to worry about:
- Damage to your reputation
- Bias in future legal proceedings
- Loss of educational opportunities
- Difficulties securing employment
This is why fighting a DWI charge is wise.
Defending Against a DWI or DUI Charge
A lawyer can help you fight a DWI or DUI charge by gathering counterevidence and attempting to show that there was no good reason to pull you over in the first place. A lawyer could also show that a blood alcohol concentration test used was faulty or otherwise unreliable. It may even be possible that your test was affected by the presence of another substance, like medication, in your mouth and that you were charged unfairly.
Your lawyer will explore all of these options and more, doing their best to get this charge expunged from your record.
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If you are a minor who has been charged with a DWI, call the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg at (214) 696-9253 to learn more about all of your legal options. There is no reason to fight back against this charge all by yourself.