Q: Can drivers under the age of 21 be charged with a DWI in Texas?
Not only can a driver under the age of 21 be punished legally for drunk driving, the standards judging what constitutes “impaired” driving are much, much stricter for young drivers.
Typically, a driver under the age of 21 who is arrested for drunk driving will face DUI (Driving Under the Influence) charges as opposed to standard DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) charge. A DUI charge in Texas is an alcohol-related offense that is accompanied by a hefty fees, fines, and punishments.
Texas is a zero tolerance state, which means that it is illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to operate a vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system. While drivers of a legal drinking age face a 0.08 percent BAC limit, underage drivers may be charged with DUI for a BAC as low at 0.02 percent. Following a DUI arrest, the driver’s license will likely be suspended by the Texas Department of Public Safety for at least 60 days.
Outside of the legal repercussions of a Texas DUI, there are other consequences, as well. Auto insurance companies will often cancel or refuse to renew a policy for an underage driver convicted of DUI, while other companies may raise monthly premiums by hundreds of dollars per month to justify coverage of a high-risk individual. This can last for as long as five years, which can become an expensive venture.
The best bet for you and your child under the age of 21 to avoid dealing with a DUI is to speak frankly with them about the consequences of drunk driving, both for themselves and the people that they could hurt or kill. An alcohol-related offense on their record could haunt them for the rest of their life, and it simply is not worth it.
When your young drivers are home for winter break, take a moment to speak with them—you could save their future and someone’s life.