Minors facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Texas are likely frightened about what will happen next. You have your whole future ahead of you, but one mistake or wrongful accusation could derail the plans that you have. This is why it is incredibly important to be proactive and get help with your minor DUI.
When so much is on the line, you need the help of The Wilder Law Firm. Put our 25 plus years of experience to work for you. Together, we will get through this experience. Contact The Wilder Law Firm immediately at 214-741-4000 for the help that you need.
What is Minor DUI?
There is a huge difference between a DUI and DWI charge in Texas. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) only applies to people under the age of 21 who drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) applies to anyone who is found to be intoxicated while driving.
We Have the DUI Defense That You Need
There are several aspects of being charged with a DUI that you and your child need to be aware of.
- Legality of the stop.
- What is zero tolerance?
- Is the odor of alcohol enough to be charged?
- Do they have to give me sobriety tests?
- Do they have to breath or blood test me?
- My parents legally served me.
- I was 100% sober, how can they charge me?
- I wasn’t tested, what now?
- I was driving the boat with dad.
Legality of the Stop
The police do not have the right to stop you just to see what’s going on. If you are driving late at night (early morning), as long as you are not violating a curfew, the police must witness a traffic violation or other illegal activity in order to legally pull you over. This is called “reasonable suspicion” and it is necessary in order for the police to legally stop you. I will review the facts of your case to determine if the police had a legal basis to stop you, and if not, how we go about fighting the illegal stop.
Texas takes a very harsh stance against minors consuming alcohol and then driving. A minor can be perfectly sober and still be charged with a DUI.
Odor of Alcohol on Breath
If you are under 21 years of age and driving with just the odor of alcohol on your breath, the officer will have probable cause to cite you and/or arrest you for DUI. The odor of an alcoholic beverage on your breath does not mean that you actually have alcohol in your system, but it is enough to be charged.
The police are not required to give you any sobriety tests in order to charge you with a DUI. You can have complete control of your mental and physical faculties and be charged with DUI. You can be driving perfectly normal and be charged with DUI. However, if any sobriety tests are given, any difficulty, however slight, will be deemed to have been caused by alcohol.
The police are not required to give you a breath or blood test to prove you had a detectable amount of alcohol in your system. An officer’s opinion that you did is enough to be charged with a DUI, even without a chemical test to factually prove it.
Legally Served By Parents
In Texas, parents can legally serve alcohol to their children who are under the age of 21. However, even if alcohol is legally consumed, a minor cannot then legally drive until all the alcohol has left their system. A huge problem can arise because the odor of alcohol will stay on your breath much longer than the alcohol will stay in your system.
Sobriety has nothing to do with being charged with DUI. Sobriety is only an issue if you are charred with DWI. This may not seem fair, but this is how Texas handles minors, alcohol, and driving.
No Tests Given
Even if there were no sobriety, breath, or blood tests given, you can still be charged with DUI. The odor of alcohol is enough to charge you with DUI, but there has to be some evidence to prove you had a detectable amount of alcohol in your system. The odor of alcohol on your breath can prove you had something to drink, but does not prove that you actually had alcohol in your system. I have had officers testify that if you can smell the odor of alcohol on your breath there has to be alcohol in your system. There is no scientific research to support this.
Driving the Boat
If you are out on the lake with Dad and he surprises you with a cold beer, do not drive the boat. The strict, no tolerance DUI laws apply to driving a boat on the lake. You could have legally consumed a beer with dad, still sober, and drove the boat perfectly fine under dad’s supervision, and be charged with DUI if stopped by the Game Warden.
Penalties of a DUI
A DUI in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor, just like a speeding ticket, but don’t take a DUI charge lightly. A DUI conviction will stay on your record forever. Further, most of society associates a DUI to be the same as a DWI. There is a huge stigma associated with DUI convictions. The potential penalties of a DUI can include:
- Deferred probation up to six months.
- Mandatory driver license suspension.
- Fine up to $500.
- Up to 40 hours community service.
- Potential to expunge a deferred DUI.
- Cannot expunge driver license suspension.
Protecting Your Future
If you are charged with DUI, the best place to start is by hiring a criminal defense lawyer. At The Wilder Firm, we have worked with minor DUI cases in Texas and know the unique issues that minors face, as well as how to defend them. Put our knowledge, experience, and skill to work for you. Contact The Wilder Law Firm immediately at 214-741-4000.