If you’re under 21 years old, there are special rules that apply to driving after you’ve had a drink. While most people in Texas drive after they drink, people under 21 years old have to wait a very long time after they drink before they can drive legally. Here are five things you may not know about the DUI offense that only apply if you’re under 21.
1. Your BAC Doesn’t Matter
Essentially, for underage drinking, the state has a zero-tolerance policy. That means even if your BAC is under the .08% limit for adults 21 and over, you can still be convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Officers frequently rely on roadside breath tests, even though they’re scientifically unreliable, to create evidence that you have a trace amount of alcohol in your system.
2. You Can Face Additional Charges
Because you’re underage, you may also be charged with Driving While Intoxicated. To get a DWI conviction, the state has to prove that you were over the legal limit or lost the “normal use” of your mental or physical faculties. Let’s just hope you’re normal to begin with. I guess disabled people are out of luck.
In addition, all of the other laws related to DWI apply as well. DUI is just an additional one that you will have to deal with as a consequence of your being under 21.
3. Here Are Your Possible DUI Penalties
There are lots of consequences in a Texas DUI case, especially if you’re underage. Your punishment may include:
- A fine of up to $500
- A suspension of your license
- Rehab/alcohol education program
- Your parents may be required to attend court with you
- You may be required to perform Community Service
You may also be arrested and have to appear in court. If you miss court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
4. You Could Lose Your Insurance
Of course, no car insurance company likes to see that someone they’re working with has been charged with an alcohol-related driving offense.
But when you’re under the age of 21, those insurance companies are even less enthusiastic to keep you on your insurance plan. In fact, if you’re charged, it’s highly likely that your company will decide to end your policy. Or, they may simply decide not to renew your policy when your current insurance term ends.
This will cause you huge financial stress – in addition to the legal and court fees you’ll likely already be paying.
5. You Might Get An Ignition Locking Device Installed
In some cases (likely for repeated offenses) you may have to have a device installed in your car to monitor your drinking. Essentially, in order to start your car, you’ll need to blow a 0% BAC into the device. Only then will your car turn on. If you refuse to do so, you may lose your license. Also, you’ll be responsible for paying for the device, its upkeep and its installation.