Many do not understand the offense of juvenile DUI in Texas. So, what does the crime entail?
Being accused of a juvenile DUI is a scary thing. Those accused have likely just had an unpleasant encounter with law enforcement, and it is likely this is the first time anything like this has happened to them. The thought of court appearances and further questioning is intimidating. Under such overwhelming circumstances, those charged with a juvenile DUI should speak to a Texas criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Differences Between DUI and DWI
Many people, including accused teenagers, mistake DUI and DWI as the same thing, and they use the terms interchangeably. However, there are differences between the two.
A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) applies only to people under the age of 21. This law is outlined in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 106.041. Under this statute, the prosecution can press charges for a DUI if a person is under the age of 21 and has operated a motor vehicle or watercraft in a public place. Under this law, any detectable amount of alcohol in a person’s system is enough to warrant DUI charges. Individuals that are under the age of 16 and suspected of a DUI will likely be charged with juvenile DUI.
A charge of driving while impaired (DWI) on the other hand, applies to any motorist that operates a vehicle in public, with a blood alcohol content (BAC) higher than 0.08. A person may also be charged with DWI if a law enforcement officer believes they have lost the use of their mental or physical faculties because they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Penalties for Juvenile DUI
A juvenile DUI is considered a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties for a first offense include:
A maximum $500 fine
A driver’s license suspension between 60 and 180 days
Those who are charged with a second juvenile DUI offense will face much harsher penalties. Although this offense is still considered a Class C misdemeanor, the penalties are enhanced. These include a driver’s license suspension of 120 days to two years and community service with a minimum of 40 hours. Penalties for a third conviction are even harsher and could include a maximum fine of $2,000 and possible jail time, if the courts decide to try a juvenile as an adult.
Is Your Child Facing Charges? Call a Texas Criminal Defense Attorney
Juvenile criminal records are sealed and so they do not hurt minors the same way they hinder adults. Penalties for a juvenile DUI, particularly a first offense, are also quite lenient, as the state focuses on rehabilitation and not discipline. However, if your child is facing charges, you still need the help of an Austin criminal defense attorney. At Granger and Mueller, PC, we will fight to keep your child in the juvenile system so that he or she does not have to live with one mistake for the rest of his or her life. We will also prepare a solid defense that could also reduce their charges or get them dropped altogether. Call us today to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys.