DUI in Texas

Texas has adopted a no-tolerance stance on underage drinking and driving, and it is reflected in its DUI laws. In addition to the court-ordered penalties that result from a DUI in Texas, the criminal record can impact school, housing, and employment opportunities, and even lead to increased insurance rates. Andrew Peveto takes a serious approach to underage drinking violations like DUI in order to minimize the impact and allow clients to move forward with their lives.

DUI vs DWI in Texas

Many people are not aware that in Texas, DUI, or DUIA – driving under the influence of alcohol – is not the same as DWI – driving while intoxicated. The Texas DUI law is found at Section 106.041 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code and is specifically addressed to minors. DWI, on the other hand, applies to anyone driving with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit or lacking necessary faculties to operate a vehicle due to the ingestion of alcohol, drugs, or another substance.

  DUI DWI
Age of offender Under 21 Any age
Necessary level of intoxication“any detectable amount of alcohol”BAC of .08% or while lacking “the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to ingestion of substance
ClassificationFrom Class C misdemeanor to Delinquent Conduct, depending on age and number of offensesFrom Class B misdemeanor to enhanced felony punishment, depending on age and number of offenses
PenaltyFine of up to $500, between 20 and 60 hours of community service, and license suspension between 60 days and 2 years; For first or second offenses, attendance in Alcohol Awareness Course by minor and possibly for parent as wellFrom fines up to $2,000, jail time of 72 hours to 6 months, and license suspension between 90 days and 1 year for first offense, to fines up to $10,000, jail time of 25 years to life, and license suspension between 180 days and 2 years for 3 DWIs with prior felony convictions

DUI by age

The Texas DUI laws treat underage drinkers differently depending on their age. An underage drinker who is 17-20 years old is treated differently than an underage drinker who is under 17 years old.

DUI offenses by a minor under 17 years old are charged as a Class C misdemeanor while those by an older minor are Class B. This means the penalties for a younger minor are also lower, but they can require the participation of a parent in an alcohol awareness program. Another difference is that repeat violations by a minor under 17 constitute a violation of the Texas Family Code.

Texas DUI Laws and implied consent

It may seem easy to avoid a DUIA charge by refusing to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test if you are pulled over. However, Texas has an implied consent law which virtually means that by driving in the state, you impliedly consent to tested to measure your blood alcohol content if you are pulled over for suspected intoxicated driving.

If a minor’s blood or breath specimen shows any detectable amount of alcohol in their system, their drivers license will be suspended for 60 days for a first offense, up to 180 days for a third or subsequent offense. However, refusing a specimen may prevent conviction for the DUI but it results in a longer automatic suspension – 180 days for a first refusal, and two years for a second or subsequent refusal. The penalty for refusing to submit to testing is in addition to the penalties for conviction of a DUI or DWI.

Defending against DUIA

It is possible to contest whether the officer had probable cause for the traffic stop, as well as whether there was a detectable amount of alcohol or controlled substance in the minor. This requires requesting an administrative hearing within 15 days. Failure to request a hearing will lead to an automatic license suspension.

It is important to work with a DUI lawyer for this administrative hearing and for any other portion of the DUI prosecution. An experienced lawyer will understand how to challenge the state’s evidence in the most effective way. He can also help you pursue a deferred adjudication. If you do not receive more than one alcohol-related conviction before you turn 21, a DUI lawyer can also help you obtain an expunction.

Speak with a DUI lawyer near me

Texas laws leave little leeway for minors charged with DUI but there are ways have the charges reduced, dismissed, or deferred. If you or your child have been charged with a DUI in Texas, speak with Texas underage drinking lawyer Andrew Peveto to find out whether it is possible to avoid a license suspension, have the charges dropped, or negotiate a reduced charge to a non-alcohol offense like reckless operation.

Mr. Peveto understands the immediate situation, as well as the long-term effects an underage alcohol record can have. Protect your rights and your future by calling the Peveto Law Firm, proudly serving the DFW area.

Additional Texas DUI lawyer resources:

  1. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 106.041 DRIVING OR OPERATING WATERCRAFT UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL BY MINOR, https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/AL/htm/AL.106.htm#106.041
  2. Texas Department of Public Safety, Driver License Document DL-20, https://www.dps.texas.gov/DriverLicense/documents/DL-20.pdf