Plano, Texas takes an especially harsh stance on underage DWI. A conviction for underage drunk driving in Plano can mean substantial fines and an extensive driver’s license suspension. Conviction on under 21 DWI charges will leave you with a permanent criminal record.
An underage DWI lawyer in Plano can assist you in protecting your future — or that of a young family member — and help to ensure the protection of your legal rights through this frightening and confusing experience.
Contact the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg today at 214-696-9253, to learn more about your options for fighting underage DWI charges in Plano.
What is the difference between an underage DUI and an underage DWI?
Texas law defines a separate set of penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). DUI charges apply to underage drivers only, whereas both under 21 and legal adult drivers may qualify for DWI charges.
For underage drivers — those who are not legally permitted to consume alcohol at all in Texas — the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code (TABC) establishes a zero-tolerance standard. An underage DUI charge requires only that the driver have any measurable level of alcohol in their body.
However, to qualify for criminal DWI charges, a driver — no matter his age — must have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or above, according to Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code.
So, if an underage driver has a BAC of 0.08 or above, officers will charge him with DWI. (In some cases, compassionate officers will charge underage drivers with DUI instead of DWI, but this is a rarity.)
This statute applies to intoxication via alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. It is important to note that you do not have to fail a BAC test for the state to charge you with under 21 DWI. The arresting officer need only deem that you do not have control of your mental or physical faculties.
What are the penalties for an underage DWI in Plano?
The penalties for Texas DWI — including underage DWI — are as follows.
First Offense Underage DWI
This offense is a class B misdemeanor, carrying monetary fines of up to $2,000, 3 days to 6 months in jail and a 90-day to 1-year driver’s license suspension. If you have an open container in your car, you will serve a minimum of 6 days in jail.
Second Offense Underage DWI
This offense is a class A misdemeanor, with a fine of up to $4,000, as much as 1 year in jail and the suspension of your driver’s license for up to 2 years.
Third and Subsequent Underage DWI
Subsequent offenses carry felony charges, monetary fines up to $10,000, up to 10 years in prison and up to a 2-year driver’s license suspension.
Additional and Enhanced Underage DWI Penalties
For any underage drunk driving conviction, the penalties may also include probation, alcohol counseling, attendance of alcohol education class and community service. The court may also require you to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Any under 21 DWI charge can include aggravated charges and penalties if your BAC was 0.15 or higher. If you had a passenger under age 15 in the car when an officer pulled you over, the prosecution can charge you with a felony, even on your first offense.
No matter how old you are, a DWI conviction will remain on your record permanently. This means it will show up whenever you apply for a job or an apartment, and even when you apply to college.
What are your options for fighting underage DWI charges?
An underage DWI lawyer at the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg can explain all the available options and how each one might impact your future depending on the facts of your case. However, for most under 21 DWIs in Plano, you have three alternatives to entering a guilty plea to the original charges.
- Dismissal of charges: Your attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor or judge that the charges against you have no basis, in which case, he may agree to drop the charges completely.
- Reduction of charges: If the prosecutor or judge will not agree to drop the charges against you, your lawyer may convince the state to reduce the charges in exchange for a guilty plea.
- Going to court: If necessary, your lawyer can assemble evidence and build a strong case to defend you in court. The state must prove multiple legal elements beyond a reasonable doubt.
Whether your attorney can negotiate your charges down or represent you in court, a DWI attorney can protect your rights — or those of your child — under the law.
In addition to your criminal charges, you must also deal with the second aspect of Texas DWI charges — the suspension of your driver’s license. This occurs in a separate proceeding known as Administrative License Revocation.
What is Administrative License Revocation?
The Administrative License Revocation process, or ALR, determines whether you will lose your driver’s license after an underage DWI arrest, and for how long.
This process is separate from the criminal court proceedings, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) may suspend your license even if the state drops the case or you beat the charges in court.
At the time of your arrest, the officer will confiscate your license and issue you a temporary driving permit that expires in 14 days. You or your attorney must schedule a formal hearing within 15 days, otherwise DPS will revoke your license.
At the hearing, you and the arresting officer must testify under oath. Having an underage DWI lawyer to represent you can help ensure the best possible outcome for your driver’s license suspension.
Choosing an underage DWI lawyer in Plano
An underage DWI or drunk driving conviction can affect a young life forever. It can limit options for college attendance, future employment, and even the ability to rent an apartment.
At the Law Offices of Randall B. Isenberg, we offer free consultations and case reviews to under 21 DWI clients throughout the Plano area. Randall brings three decades of experience — including time as a felony prosecutor and state district court judge — to bear for your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to speak directly to an underage DWI lawyer in Plano: 214-696-9253.