What is the Legal Drinking Age in Texas?
The 1984 Minimum Drinking Age Act requires states to prohibit individuals younger than 21 from purchasing alcohol or possessing it publicly. If a state doesn’t set the minimum drinking age at 21, the state is not eligible to receive state highway funds. However, some states have set exceptions regarding alcohol use and possession in a private residence or while in the care of a parent. As an example, someone who is underage can consume alcohol and possess it if they are with a guardian or a parent while in the State of Texas.
Texas Laws for Underage Drinking
In the State of Texas, minors who attempt to buy alcohol, who possess alcohol, or who drink alcoholic beverages, as well as those who are underage and are intoxicated in public, or minors who lie about their age in order to buy alcoholic beverages, will be charged criminally with a Class C misdemeanor. What are the penalties for being found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor in Texas?
- A fine as high as $500
- 30 to 180 days loss of or denial of driver’s license
- community service ranging from 8 hours to 40 hours
- attendance of an alcohol awareness program for minors
If the minor is 17 or older and charged with their third offense, the fine varies from $250 to $2,500, up to 180 days of jail time, or both they could face both a fine and jail time. Their driver’s license will also be suspended.
If a minor who has had prior alcohol-related convictions will have his or her driver’s license suspended for a year if he or she doesn’t attend the alcohol awareness program as ordered by the judge.
Texas Zero Tolerance Law for Underage Drinking and Driving
Texas law clearly states it is illegal for anyone younger than 21 to operate any motor vehicle in a public place while having any amount of alcohol in their system that can be detected. This law was expanded to include watercraft as well as motor vehicles in September 2009. There are stringent penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol if you are underage.
The first offense of underage driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol in Texas is a Class C misdemeanor. The penalties include:
- A fine of up to $500
- Attendance of an alcohol awareness class
- Mandatory community service ranging from 20 to 40 hours
- Suspension of the driver’s license for 60 days, with the minor would not qualify for occupational license eligibility during the first 30 days
Facing second offense charges of the Class C misdemeanor will result in harsher penalties, including:
- A fine as high as $500
- Attendance of an alcohol awareness class as ordered by the judge
- A mandatory 40 to 60 hours of community service
- 120-day suspension of the driver’s license, without eligibility for the occupational license during the first 90 days of the suspension
A third offense of underage drinking and driving is ineligible for deferred adjudication. The minor will have his or her driver’s license suspended for 180 days and an occupational license can’t be obtained anytime during that suspension. If the minor is 17 or older, the fine will increase to anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or result in confinement in jail, or both.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI or DWI in Texas, then it is important to understand the seriousness of the charges faced and to retain the services of an experienced drunk driving lawyer like those at Fears Nachawati. it is crucial that you have an experienced drunk driving attorney on your side, who will fight to ensure that your rights are protected and will help you navigate the complicated legal process ahead.
In order to schedule your free, no-obligation legal consultation please call (866) 705-7584 and we have offices located throughout the state of Texas, including in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Austin.