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Secrets of the Texas Criminal Justice System and Your Rights
While Texas law harshly punishes any drunk drivers, there is a special classification for minors who choose to drive after consuming alcohol. Though penalties associated with this charge are lessened, they still are quite serious. Some factors, such as previous DUI convictions, may lead to progressively higher fines and terms of incarceration. Even without any prior charges, a DUI conviction would create a criminal record that can seriously impact a minor’s future.
A Fort Worth DUI lawyer could also help outline potential civil penalties you may face following a charge. Allow an aggressive defense attorney to help minimize the repercussions associated with a DUI, explain the difference between a DUI and DWI, and help you build a strong defense against accusations to protect your future.
DUI Laws in Fort Worth
Although driving under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are often used interchangeably, they are separate criminal charges that refer to completely different situations in Texas.
Fort Worth DUI
Outlined in Texas Penal Code § 106.041, a DUI occurs when a minor operates a vehicle or watercraft after consuming any detectable amount of alcohol. This Texas law is widely known as a “zero tolerance” law for minors who drink and drive.
DUI charges could apply regardless of whether the underage person shows signs of impairment. This is because there is no minimum blood alcohol concentration (BAC) required to support a DUI charge.
Fort Worth DWI
A DWI, as outlined under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, occurs when a person drives while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs. For a DWI charge, there must be an impairment of the normal physical or mental faculties or a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, as measured by blood, breath, or urine testing.
Testing for Minors
Minors are subject to the Texas implied consent law. This means, by having a valid driver’s license, minors stopped in Fort Worth consent to submit to a test to determine the presence of any alcohol or drugs in their systems.
Any individual who refuses to provide a sample for testing may receive a longer license suspension. A Fort Worth DUI attorney could work to mitigate the potential penalties for refusing to submit a sample.
Potential Penalties for a Conviction
DUIs are generally charged as Class C misdemeanors in Fort Worth. Generally, the potential penalties for a Class C misdemeanor conviction depend on whether there are any prior convictions.
The court could order a first-time offender pay a fine of up to $500, complete 20 to 40 hours of community service and take an alcohol awareness class. Second-time offenders are generally subject to the same penalties but may be ordered to complete 40 to 60 hours of community service. Finally, a third-time offender over the age of 17 could face penalties including an alcohol awareness class, fines between $500 and $2,000, 40 to 60 hours of community service, and a jail sentence of up to 180 days.
DUI charges could also result in the suspension of a driver’s license for between 60 and 180 days. A suspension could take effect as soon as a DUI is charged. However, a dedicated DUI attorney in Fort Worth could help individuals challenge the suspension following an arrest.
Consult A Fort Worth DUI Attorney
You may be unsure what to do following a DUI arrest. In situations such as these, it is often important to take steps to protect your rights as soon as charges have been brought against you. One such step is contacting a DUI defense attorney to discuss your case.
Penalties for a DUI, such as an administrative license suspension, may begin immediately following an arrest. Fortunately, an experienced Fort Worth DUI lawyer may be able to help you minimize the charges and penalties you are facing. Reach out today to begin the process of defending yourself.