Texas Law: Alcohol and Minors FAQ
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Are Texas DWI laws different for minors?
Yes. A minor only needs to drive under any detectable amount of alcohol to be convicted. If all alcohol has left their body but the breath still smells of alcohol, they could get a DUI.
Who does Texas consider to be a “minor” for these purposes?
Anyone under 21 is a minor, although a person between 18 and 20 may be prosecuted under adult DWI laws.
Can Texas police request a breath test from a minor without a parent’s presence?
Yes. Texas law operates under the principle of implied consent – if you’re driving in Texas, you’ve consented to taking a breath test, regardless of your age.
Can a minor refuse a breath test in Texas?
Yes, with the following consequences:
- Suspension of your driving privileges for not less than 120 days if this is your first arrest for an alcohol related driving offense. If you were arrested but do not have a driver’s license, the state will not issue a driver license to you for 120 days.
- A 240-day suspension of your driving privileges if your record reflects one or more drug or alcohol related offenses during the 5-year period preceding your arrest.
What if the minor’s breath test is less than .08?
If the test shows any amount of alcohol, the minor’s driving privileges will be suspended for at least 60 days.
How does a Texas DWI conviction affect a minor’s driving privileges?
In Texas, the judge is required to suspend driving privileges for at least 90 days and require an ignition interlock as a condition of probation. If the judge does not do this, DPS automatically suspends the license for one year.
What are the DUI penalties for minors in Texas?
Class C Misdemeanor. If you are under 18, the court requires your parents or guardian to be with you at every court appearance, regardless of if you have a lawyer or not. The court can compel their presence. If convicted, a minor can be fined and will be required to complete between 20-40 hours of community service related to education or prevention of misuse of alcohol. The minor will also have to attend an alcohol awareness program within 90 days.
If the minor is under 18, the court may require the parent or guardian to attend this program with the minor. If the minor fails to complete this course within 90 days, the court may suspend the license for an additional 6 months. For a first offense, the minor may receive deferred adjudication for DUI, although it will be considered a conviction. If this is the only offense the minor receives, he is entitled to have it expunged from his record after his 21st birthday.
Class C Misdemeanor. All penalties are the same with 2 exceptions. First, the number of community service hours is increased to 40-60 hours. Second, and more importantly, a second, or any subsequent conviction may not be expunged from your record, but the minor still may receive deferred adjudication.
Class B Misdemeanor. Deferred adjudication is not available now. If the minor is between 18-20 at the time of the 3rd offense, they face confinement in jail up to 180 days and/or between $500-$2,000 fine in addition to the license suspension.
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