In Texas, an adult (over the age of 21) can face charges of driving while intoxicated for having a BAC of at least 0.08%, or lacking the necessary physical and mental capabilities to drive due to alcohol or drugs.
However, Texas has specific laws for underage motorists who drink and drive.
Zero tolerance for minors
It is unlawful for any minor under the age of 21 to consume alcohol in Texas. Because of this, there are "zero tolerance" laws in place for having any alcohol while driving. An underage motorist with any detectable amount of alcohol can receive a DWI conviction, even if he or she is not actually intoxicated.
For drivers who are younger than 17, the penalties for drunk driving include the following:
- Fine of $500
- Up to 40 hours of community service
- 60-day license revocation
- Alcohol awareness course attendance
This is a class C misdemeanor offense.
Between 17 and 20
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a class B misdemeanor for drivers age 17 to 20. A conviction can come with the following consequences:
- Fines up to $2,000
- Jail time between three and 180 days
- One-year license revocation
However, authorities may reduce the license suspension to only 90 days with the use of an ignition interlock device and community supervision.
The implied consent law applies to all drivers, even underage ones. When an officer arrests an underage driver for drunk driving, the young person must submit to a breath or blood test to determine BAC. Any minor motorist who refuses this test may face jail time until posting a bond or appearing at a juvenile court. A chemical test refusal also results in a license revocation of 180 days.
Providing alcohol to minors
People who furnish or sell alcohol to an underage individual can face one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. However, parents, legal guardians and spouses can give alcohol to their kids or spouses as long as the person providing it is present when the minor possesses or drinks it.