In Texas, there are generally two circumstances in which people find themselves facing driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges. The first is if they caused the crash, as the police routinely test everyone involved in collisions for chemical intoxication. The second is when they face targeted enforcement by a police officer who pulls them over for a specific reason.
In either scenario, the results of the chemical breath test could be the grounds for underage DWI charges against a new driver. How are the rules different and much more strict for those who are not yet 21?
Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for those under 21
An adult will not face DWI charges unless they caused a crash or their chemical breath test results are over the legal limit. An adult needs to have a breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher in most cases for the state to charge them with a DWI offense. The same rule does not apply to drivers under the age of 21.
If there is any detectable amount of alcohol in someone’s body when a police officer performs a chemical test, they could face arrest and criminal prosecution. A minor who fails a breath test by showing a detectable amount of alcohol will face a license suspension of between 60 and 180 days, depending on their record. The criminal penalties include up to $500 in court-ordered fines, between 20 and 40 hours of mandatory community service and alcohol awareness classes.
When someone refuses to perform a breath test as a minor, they will face a license suspension that lasts for between 180 days and two years.
How do you fight back against underage drunk driving charges?
The zero-tolerance rule in Texas might mean that a teenager gets arrested for consuming alcohol at a religious ceremony or the day after attending a party. There are numerous potential defenses that can help young adults facing DWI charges as underage drivers.
From showing that they had used an asthma inhaler that compromises the accuracy of breath testing to showing that there was an issue with the testing unit, there may be multiple ways for a family to help a young adult fight back against DWI charges that could affect their life for years to come.
Reacting quickly and strongly when the state brings charges against a teen can help your family preserve that young adult’s future.