Is the Zero Tolerance Law in Texas Really Set at Zero?

In the state of Texas, there is a “zero-tolerance law” when it comes to drivers who are under the age of 21 and are found driving under the influence. This is because it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to be consuming alcohol at all under state law. While some states have set the allowable blood-alcohol content (BAC) for drivers under the age of 21 at 0.00%, this is not the case in Texas.

The National Highway Systems Designation Act of 1995 mandated that all states consider a 0.02% BAC for all under-21 drivers. In order to qualify for federal aid for highways, all states had to set this BAC limit. Many states not only agreed to the limit but made the offense a per se violation of the law, meaning an officer does not have to prove intoxication as long as the BAC is above the stated limit. In Texas, in order for the underage drinker to qualify for charges and an arrest for DWI, the BAC must register at above 0.02%.

DWI and Texas Minors

Texas DWI laws classify anyone under the age of 21 years as a minor. Like many other states in the nation, Texas law prohibits a driver younger than 21 years old from operating a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol or drugs in his or her system.

For first-time offenders, potential penalties that will be faced include:

  • Driver’s license suspension for up to 60 days;
  • Monetary fine of up to $500.00;
  • Attendance at an Alcohol Education Program (AEP) that is at least 12 hours long;
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service;
  • Class C misdemeanor;

For second-time offenders, potential penalties that the accused will face include:

  • Driver’s license suspension for 120 days;
  • Monetary fine of up to $500.00;
  • Attendance at an Alcohol Education Program (AEP) that is at least 12 hours long;
  • 40 to 60 hours of community service;
  • Class C misdemeanor.

For third time offenders, potential penalties that the accused will face include:

  • Ineligibility for deferred adjudication;
  • Driver’s license suspension for 180 days;
  • Monetary fine between $500.00 and $2,000.00; and
  • A jail sentence of up to 180 days.

In addition to the above, an accused who is charged and convicted will likely have to pay fines, court costs, and legal fees. Moreover, a Texas judge may order an interlock device be installed in the vehicle to ensure another DWI does not occur.

Texas DWI Trial Attorneys

A DWI arrest can be frightening and shocking, but know that you can take control of the situation by contacting an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney. The DWI trial lawyers at the DWI Defense Firm can protect your legal rights whether you are facing a misdemeanor or felony DWI possible conviction. Do not try to do this alone. Click here today to schedule your initial, free, case evaluation.

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