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DWI penalties are stiff for underage Texas drivers

Texas supports a Zero Tolerance Law for minor drivers. The blood alcohol concentration level, or BAC, is used to test whether a motorist is too inebriated. If you are under the age of 21, you are not allowed to operate a vehicle if you have any level of drugs or alcohol in your system. This means that if you intend to drive, you must abstain from having a beer at the fraternity party or using one of the smart drugs like Adderall or Ritalin, which are so easy to obtain on college campuses today. If you indulge, you risk a citation for driving while intoxicated.

First offense penalties for minors

When charged with DWI, your driver's license will be suspended for up to one year, and you will face a fine of up to $500. The judge will likely order you to enter an alcohol education program, and if you do not complete it, your license can be suspended for an additional 180 days. Depending on your age and the circumstances of the charge, you might have to comply with a community service order, in which case the authorities will install an ignition interlock device on your car.

The ignition interlock device explained

The ignition interlock device is actually a form of breathalyzer. Once installed on your vehicle, it works by interrupting the signal between starter and ignition. You will be required to breathe into it, and if your BAC level is satisfactory according to pre-programmed standards, you will be able to start the car. Random testing will continue as you drive, so forget about carrying a flask of alcohol or stopping by to see a friend for a quick drink.

Non-driving alcohol offenses

If you have not yet reached the age of 21, several non-driving alcohol offenses can impact your driving privileges, such as possessing, consuming or attempting to buy beer, wine or liquor. You are also in trouble if you are caught lying about your age in such an attempt, or by showing falsified documents that state you are 21. As a practical matter, you should always avoid becoming intoxicated in public. If you are found guilty of a non-driving alcohol offense, your license can be suspended for 30 days; for a second offense, 60 days; and for a third offense, 180 days.

Seeking legal help

In addition to the various penalties you face, either for a DWI or a non-driving alcohol charge, there will be fines and court costs. Depending on the situation overall, your parents may decide to seek legal assistance, and an attorney experienced with cases involving minors and DWI-related driving offenses is standing by to help.

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