What to Do if Your Teen Is Arrested for DWI
It can be hard to let go as children grow up and start exploring the world on their own. But few things are more anxiety-producing than knowing that your teen is behind the wheel. And with the prevalence of underage drinking, teen DWI charges are a very real threat. But one bad decision doesn’t have to lead to a lifelong problem. By working with a DWI lawyer, you can help your teen defend themself in court and work toward better, safer driving habits in the future.
What Qualifies as Underage Drinking and Driving, and Why Do You Need a DWI Lawyer?
Driving while intoxicated is a heavy crime in Texas, and if a minor is found guilty of it, they can be tried as an adult. Underage drinking and driving applies to any minors under the age of 21 who are operating a vehicle on public roads with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
Texas law practices a zero-tolerance policy toward underage drinking. While adults can legally drive with a BAC (blood alcohol content) level between .01 and .07%, minors are treated differently. Even if a minor driver has a BAC under .08%, they will still face underage drinking and driving charges.
Is a DWI the Same as a DUI?
Although many use the terms interchangeably, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) and a DUI (driving under the influence) are two different charges that both deal with drunk driving. A DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, while a DUI is a less serious Class C misdemeanor. Anyone, adult or minor, can face DWI charges, but only minors can encounter DUI charges. Whether your teen is charged with a DUI or a DWI will depend on their BAC level and whether or not their driving posed a threat to others or caused an accident.
What Happens After a Teen DWI Arrest? Contact a DWI Lawyer
If a law enforcement officer pulls over a teen either at a checkpoint or for probable cause, they may request that the minor perform a field sobriety test. If the teen fails the test or shows other signs of intoxication, they could be arrested for underage drinking and driving. The interior of their car can be searched upon arrest and, if impounded, the entire vehicle can be inventoried. Evidence of any crime, even those unrelated to alcohol, can be seized.
If the arresting officer suspects the minor driver to be intoxicated, they can handcuff the driver and take them to either a county jail, police department, or a hospital/clinic for further BAC testing. By driving on public Texas roads, any driver automatically consents to taking a breathalyzer test or submitting to a blood test to check alcohol levels. Failure to comply with these requests can add additional charges that you and your DWI lawyer have to fight.
Penalties for Teen DWI and DUI Charges
Depending on the age of the driver, the amount of alcohol in their system, and any accidents or damages their driving caused, a teen can face either a DUI or a DWI charge. A DUI is a lesser charge, but it still carries hefty penalties.
Minors convicted of a DUI can face the following penalties:
- Fines up to $500
- Up to 60 hours of community service
- License suspension between 60 days and two years
- Mandatory attendance at an Alcohol Awareness Course
Minors convicted of a DWI can face the following penalties:
- Fines between $2,000 and $10,000
- A minimum jail time of 72 hours and up to 10 years
- License suspension between one year and two years
Teen Rights and a DWI Lawyer’s Help
If your teen faces arrest on a DWI charge, it’s important to contact a DWI lawyer as soon as possible. Although your teen faces arrest, they still have rights as a citizen. However, teens, especially if intoxicated, may not be fully aware of those rights or how to protect them. When your teen first contacts you, be sure to remind them that they have the right to remain silent. They don’t answer any specific questions until they’ve spoken to a lawyer. But tell them to be as polite as possible and to cooperate with the officers, as failure to do so can weaken their case.
How a DWI Lawyer Can Help
Nothing is more terrifying than getting a call that your child is in the hospital or jail. It’s a confusing and frustrating time, but you don’t have to face it alone. With the help of a qualified and knowledgeable DWI lawyer from the Hager Law Firm, you can help your teen get through their case with a strong defense. Our lawyers know how Texas law works, and we can help you and your teen navigate the process. For help with a Teen DUI or DWI lawyer, contact the Hager Law Firm today at (903) 466-0001.