When an underage driver gets caught driving drunk in Texas, the penalties can be particularly harsh.
Upon conviction for a DUI, you will lose your driver’s license. You will also have to pay a substantial fine. Worst of all, you will earn a permanent criminal record that can interfere with your ability to get accepted to a good college or university. It can affect your ability to get a student loan or hold a professional license. Your criminal record can even stand in the way of getting a job or renting an apartment.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, our criminal defense team regularly sees how detrimental a DUI conviction can be in a young person’s life. Fortunately, we can help.
Will I Face Jail Time for a DUI?
Under state law, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more qualifies you for a criminal DWI charge. However, Texas rules regarding underage drinking classify drunk driving for those under age 21 as a DUI instead of a DWI. Driving with any amount of alcohol in your system will qualify you for a DUI charge.
For teens younger than 17, the first or second conviction for a DUI carries fines up to $500, mandatory attendance of an alcohol awareness program, and between 20 and 60 hours of community service. You will also lose your driver’s license for as long as 120 days. If you receive a DUI conviction for a third time, you may lose your license for up to two years. If you are between 17 and 20 years of age, you will face much harsher penalties.
Many of our underage DUI clients and their families wonder why they should try to fight these charges. After all, the penalties may sound relatively mild, especially for the first offense for someone 16 or younger. The police and prosecutors often make this same argument when trying to convince an underage driver to enter a guilty plea.
Even if you feel comfortable with the fines, license suspension, and other penalties associated with a conviction, it is the permanent criminal record that can seriously affect a young person’s life and future.
What Impact Will a Criminal Record Have on My Life?
With a conviction on your permanent record, you may find yourself unable to get into the college or trade school of your choice. It may disqualify you from getting student loans, as well. Any potential employer who runs a background check will see your conviction and potentially use it as a reason to deny your application.
If you plan to pursue a career in nursing, teaching, financial advisement, real estate, cosmetology, or another role that requires professional licensing, your conviction may also prevent you from obtaining or keeping your license.
You will also face a substantial increase in your car insurance premiums. If your parents carry you on their policy, this rate increase will affect everyone in your household.
How Can a Lawyer Help?
Attorney Randall B. Isenberg and the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg understand how an under 21 drunk driving conviction can affect your life and your future. Our legal team can explain how these charges could impact you and help you explore your options.
Depending on the facts of your case, you may have the option for a deferral program or suspended adjudication. Or, if our legal team can identify any potential mistakes or violations of your legal rights police made at any point during the process, we may successfully negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges reduced or even dismissed.
Can I Get a Deferral for an Under 21 DUI Charge in Denton?
In some cases, our legal team can help get an underage drunk driving charge deferred. This gives you a rare and valuable second chance and provides an opportunity to avoid having a permanent criminal record.
Denton County and the local municipal court offer deferred disposition programs. These programs may give you the option of avoiding a conviction. You must apply for these programs and enter into an agreement with the court to complete certain requirements, which a judge will set forth. If you complete the requirements of your agreement within the allowable time period, the court may dismiss the charges against you.
You typically must pay all fines, fees, and court costs, and attend any education programs the court mandates. You may also complete community service. However, once you complete your obligations, you can petition the court to dismiss the charges.
Another option potentially available is Denton Teen Court. Teen court programs offer classes to help young offenders learn about the criminal justice system and their responsibilities as a citizen of their community.
If you qualify to participate in a deferral or teen program, our legal team will prepare your application and represent you in court to help get you accepted. Once you complete your obligations, we will help you petition the court for the dismissal of your charges.
If you fail to comply with your obligations for any of these programs, however, the court will assess the full penalties associated with your offense. Consequently, it is critical that you follow through and complete all the requirements the court assigns.
Meet With an Under 21 DUI Lawyer in Denton Today.
Before you make any decisions that could significantly affect your future, talk to an under 21 DUI lawyer to explore your options.
To make this process easy and affordable for underage drunk driving clients, the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg would like to offer you and your family a free consultation and case review. We can explain your options and answer your questions, allowing you to make an informed choice for your future.
Call us today at 214-696-9253 to schedule your free appointment with an under 21 DUI lawyer in Denton.