With Texas having some of the nation’s harshest DUI laws, it is no surprise that this stringency extends to underage DWIs, with convictions bringing drastic ramifications in what should be the happiest years of young adulthood. Given that the average Austin teen tries their first alcoholic beverage by age 13, understanding the laws and penalties of an underage DWI charge (classified in Texas as a DUIA) can deter individuals from driving under the influence. Here’s all you need to know about Texas DUIs to avoid charges and prevent the intervention of an underage DWI lawyer in Austin.
Texas Underage DWI Laws:
Texas, like the rest of the United States, has a zero tolerance underage drinking policy, meaning that any amount of alcohol tested on a minor constitutes a DUI charge. The state’s DWI laws define anyone under 21 as a minor, and there are two sets of penalties depending on whether you are charged with a DUI under the age of 17 or charged from the age of 17 to 20.
DUIA by Minors Under The Age of 17: Being charged with driving under the influence under the age of 17 will result in lesser penalties compared to being charged from 17 to 20 or when above 21 years old.
A first time DUIA charge is classified as a Class C misdemeanor and constitutes 20 to 40 hours of community service, participation in an alcohol awareness program, a maximum fine of up to $500, and a suspended driver’s license for 60 to 180 days. Charges will vary depending on a case’s severity or an individual’s driving record, with more serious offenses often requiring a parent’s accompaniment at alcohol awareness programs. In less severe first time cases, an expert underage DWI lawyer in Austin can assist in avoiding a license suspension and opting for an ignition interlocking device instead.
A second time DUIA charge remains a Class C misdemeanor constituting participation in an alcohol awareness program and a maximum fine of $500, with community service requirements increasing to 40 to 60 hours and license suspension’s now lasting 180 days to two years.
A third time DUIA charge is classified as Delinquent Conduct by a Minor 10 to 17 years of age. Similar to a second time DUI offense, a third DUIA will carry a maximum fine of $500, a driver’s license suspension of 180 days to two years, and 40 to 60 hours of community service.
DUIA by Minors Aged 17 to 20: Texas treats a DUIA committed by a minor over 17 very seriously with charges mimicking that of a traditional DWI committed over the age of 21. Regardless of one’s driving record, if you’re charged with a DUIA in Travis County you will need to hire an underage DWI lawyer in Austin Texas.
A first time DUIA charge above age 17 is classified as a class B misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $2000, a county jail sentence of 72 hours to a year, and a suspended license for one year (or 90 days if a court orders community supervision and the instillation of an ignition interlock device).
A second time DUIA charge above age 17 is classified as a Class A misdemeanor carrying a maximum fine of $4000, a county jail sentence of 30 days to one year, and a suspended license for 180 days to 18 months.
A third time DUIA charge above age 18 is classified as a State Jail Felony carrying a maximum fine of $10,000, a state jail sentence of two to ten years, and a suspended license for 180 days to two years.
The Importance of Finding an Underage DWI Lawyer in Austin:
Despite certain DUIA charges carrying the same penalties as adult DWIs, being charged with an underage DWI will require the help of a juvenile lawyer. The juvenile court system is full of nuances and complexities not seen in regular criminal court, and charges as grave as DUIAs should only be represented by those who specialize in juvenile law and have a full understanding of the intricacies of the juvenile justice system. Luckily enough, with Travis County boasting 8.5 lawyers per every 100,000 residents, one should have no issues finding an underage DWI lawyer in Austin.