Oftentimes we use the umbrella term of DWI to describe drinking and driving. The reality is that there are many different types of DWIs in the state of Texas and many different punishments that vary from situation to situation. One type of DWI could result in a simple fine and license suspension, while another could land a person in jail for the rest of his or her life.
The basic components of any DWI in Texas involve alcohol and operating some kind of motorized machine. That could mean a car, boat, airplane, or even amusement park equipment. Different situations bring different charges, as well. For example, if an adult is charged with a DWI and there was a child present in the vehicle, then the case complicates itself from a simple DWI to a DWI with a Child Passenger, a felony in many situations.
The same is true for underage drinking and DWI. It is a different class all on its own. When we talk about DWI we typically refer to a drinking limit of .08 BAC or higher, and this is known as the legal limit. There are also pretty straightforward penalties involved for adults who are accused and convicted of DWI.
Underage DWI and Texas
Underage drinking and driving is another situation that is treated differently than a typical DWI. For starters, there is no minimum alcohol level that is legal for someone under the age of 21 who is caught driving while drunk. Any detectable level of alcohol in a person’s system will result in an underage DWI for anyone under the age of 21. This a harsher approach than with adults, but it makes sense because it illegal to drink anything under the age of 21 in any event.
The penalties for drinking and driving for those under 21 is different from adults as well. If you are under the age of 17, the following penalties would apply:
- Up to $500 in fines;
- A license suspension of up to 60 days;
- A required 20 – 40 days of community service; and,
- Mandatory alcohol education classes.
The penalties are not as severe for youth as they are for adults, but they are still not what you would want to do with your time or money.
The penalties change for those accused and convicted of underage DWI who are older than 17. If you are 17 years old or older, the following penalties would apply to you if convicted of DWI:
- A fine of up to $2,000;
- Three to 180 day jail sentence; and,
- A license suspension of 90 days to a year.
As you can see, the older you get the more severe the law gets in penalizing illegal activity, like drinking and driving.
Knowing and Understanding Your Rights
Whether you are accused of underage drinking and driving, felony DWI, or some other type of DWI under Texas law, you have rights which apply to you. Those rights are what will protect you from the harsh penalties that result when a person is convicted of a crime in Texas. To understand and exercise your rights, you need the right legal team working for you. That is what we offer at The Wilder DWI Defense Firm. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
(image courtesy of Robert Mathews)