Underage DWI Defense in Houston: Brazoria, Ft. Bend, Galveston, Harris & Montgomery Counties
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense that frequently results in stiff penalties. Although most DWI offenders are over the legal drinking age of 21, there are laws that are designed to deal with underage drunk driving cases. The penalties for drinking and driving for underage persons are slightly different than those for adults.
In cases of underage drunk driving, anyone under 21 years of age is legally considered either a “minor” or a “juvenile.” This is a significant distinction because the juvenile justice system is noticeably different from the adult system.
What is Underage Driving While Intoxicated in Texas?
A driver under the age of 21 who is stopped by police and suspected of driving while intoxicated can be charged with underage DWI. As far as the traffic stop and the arrest, the process is similar for both adult and juvenile DWI offenders. The significant differences occur during the sentencing phase of an underage drinking and driving case.
Underage DWI Penalties
There are two punishment categories that are applicable in underage drunk driving cases. A driver who is between the ages of 17 and 20 at the time of their DWI arrest is considered a “minor.” Convicted drunk drivers in this classification are punished in much the same way as an adult offender would be.
The next category applies to anyone who is between the ages of 10 and 16 at the time of the DWI arrest. This group is classified as “juveniles.” In many jurisdictions, juveniles cannot be tried as adults. This means that their punishments will be distinctly different from DWI offenders aged 17 and up.
Some examples of underage drunk driving penalties include:
- Minors aged 17 to 20 can be charged with driving under the influence, which is a class C misdemeanor. To be convicted of DUI, an underage driver must have some detectable amount of alcohol in their system, rather than the .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC) used in Texas adult DWI cases. If convicted, a minor could face a 60-day license suspension, a fine up to $500 and 20 to 40 hours of community service for a first offense.
- A juvenile aged 10 to 16 who is convicted of DUI can face a license suspension of 90 days up to one year, a $500 fine and 20 to 40 hours of community service for a first offense.
An underage DWI attorney can help minors or juveniles fight for a less severe sentence. For example, some minors and juveniles convicted of drunk driving may qualify for deferred adjudication. This means that the conviction for DUI can be expunged from the convicted driver’s record upon their 21st birthday, as long as they commit no other infractions.
Reach Out to an Underage DWI Attorney in Houston, TX
For more information about underage DWI, call Houston defense attorney Greg Tsioros at (832) 752-5972.