Taking a look at underage drinking and driving in Texas

| Jul 15, 2019 |

If you are the parent of an underage driver, you may take a deep breath and cross your fingers every time your child gets behind the wheel.

You hope your 17-year-old does not drink, but even more important, you hope he does not drink and drive. The Texas DWI statistics are high and the penalties harsh for an underage driver convicted of this offense.

Teens at risk

According to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as provided by MADD, drunk driving crashes were responsible for 10,874 fatalities in 2017. The NHTSA points out that this number represents one such death every 48 minutes. In addition, drunk driving contributed to over 300,000 injuries that same year. NHTSA statistics also show that underage drinking is involved in roughly a quarter of car crashes with teens. Interestingly, of the 14 million people who drink alcohol in our country, 95% began imbibing before the age of 21.

Texas penalties

It is illegal for anyone under 21 to drive with alcohol in any amount in his or her system. If law enforcement arrests your teen on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, he faces the following penalties:

  •         Driver’s license suspension for 60 days
  •         A fine of up to $500
  •         Community service of up to 40 hours
  •         Mandatory attendance at alcohol-awareness classes

The amount of alcohol absorption that testing reveals can increase penalties significantly. You and your son should know that a driver 17 or older found to have a blood alcohol content level of .08% or higher faces a fine of up to $2,000 and jail time of three to 180 days.

Next steps

An arrest for DWI is an alarming and stressful experience, especially for a young person. However, there are various reasons the charge may not hold up, including procedural issues surrounding the arrest or inconsistencies in the breath or blood testing process. A DWI conviction could impact your child’s future in many negative ways. You can help him by exploring his legal options promptly.