Texas DUI Laws & Penalties

You know drinking and driving is dangerous for both you and the people around you, but do you know the legal repercussions of a DUI? Minors in Texas can face three different charges for driving under the influence, and though we know you never plan on drinking and driving yourself, it doesn't hurt to be aware of the consequences.

Zero Tolerance Policy Violation

Even if you aren't behind the wheel, you can still face some hefty penalties for handling alcohol as a minor in Texas. You can be charged with a Class C Misdemeanor for possessing, selling, buying, or consuming alcohol. Here are some of the penalties you might face:

Offense Fines Community Service License Suspension Additional
1st Up to $500 8–12 hours 30 days Alcohol Awareness Course
2nd Up to $500 20–40 hours 60 days Alcohol Awareness Course
3rd Up to $500 40–60 hours 180 days 180 days in Jail

You can face these charges even if you didn't drink any alcohol. Just having alcohol in your car could end up slapping you with a $500 fine and a criminal charge. As a minor, you should avoid being in possession of alcohol, trying to sell it, or attempting to buy it to avoid any charges.

Texas DUIA Charge

We all know the legal Blood Alcohol Content limit is .08%, but minors in Texas can be charged with a DUIA for having any measurable about of alcohol in their blood. Under Texas' Zero Tolerance Policy, minors will face a unique set of penalties for having a BAC above 0.00% but below .08%.

DUIA Fines Community Service License Suspension
1st Up to $500 20–40 hours 60–180 days
2nd Up to $500 40–60 hours 120 days to 2 years
3rd Up to $500 40–60 hours 180 days to 2 years

In addition to a fine, community service hours, and a license suspension, you may have to take an Alcohol Awareness Course as well. In some cases, a parent/guardian may have to take the course with you.

Texas DWI Charge

Minors face the same charges an adult would if caught with a BAC above the legal .08% limit. Since you are breaking the law and not just the Zero Tolerance Policy, the penalties for a DWI are much more severe.

Offense Fines Jail Time License Suspension
1st Up to $2,000 3–180 days 1 year
2nd Up to $4,000 30 days to 1 year 180 days to 18 months
3rd Up to $10,000 2–10 years 180 days to 2 years

For having a BAC above the legal limit, you face jail time, steep fines and a long license suspension. Additional penalties may be added. Should you injure someone or damage property the penalties will increase exponentially.

Refusing the Breathalyzer Test

If you are pulled over under suspicion for a DUI, the officer will likely ask you to submit to a chemical/blood test or a breathalyzer. While anyone in Texas has the right to refuse this test, you should be aware of the consequences. Because of Texas' implied consent laws, police officers have the right to suspend your license for not taking the test. Should you refuse the test, your license will be automatically suspended for 180 days, regardless of whether or not you are guilty of drinking and driving. The officer will give you a piece of paper stating that you refused the test then take away your license (if applicable) and give you a 41 day temporary permit.

Once this happens, you have 15 days to request a hearing. At this hearing, the judge will determine if the officer justly suspended your license. If the judge believes the officer had valid grounds, your license will be suspended even if you are not convicted of a DWI. If not, your license will be returned to you.

Refusing the test for a second or subsequent time will result in a two-year license suspension.

Keep in mind that refusing the test will not protect you from a DWI charge.

Long-Term Consequences

While the legal repercussions are harsh enough, getting a DWI or DUIA has far-reaching consequences. Getting a DWI will increase your car insurance premiums for at least 5 years. If you're attending college or applying for one, you may be expelled or your application rejected because of a DWI. Employers have the right to request your criminal record. You may be refused a job for having one.

Remember, the penalties listed above only include best-case scenarios. Should you injure someone or damage property — the fines, jail time and license suspension will all increase. In the end, drinking and driving isn't worth the risk to yourself. We know you're too smart to drink and drive, so obey the law and stay sober.