A DWI and a DUI in Texas are not the same thing. DUIs are reserved for minors and can have less serious consequences than that of a DWI. 

However, things aren’t always so cut and dry when it comes to DUI in Texas. Penalties can vary depending on whether or not you’re a first-time offense, and there’s even the possibility that you could be charged with DWI (even if you are a minor).

Let’s take a few minutes to cover what happens when you get a DUI in Texas, including fines, penalties, and defenses.

What qualifies as a DUI in Texas?

If you are under the age of 21 and caught driving under the influence, you will likely be charged with a DUI in Texas. Keep in mind, a DUI is not the same as a Texas DWI first offense.

To be arrested for a DWI, officers are looking for adults with a BAC of .08 or higher. However, with a DUI, minors can be picked up for any blood alcohol content level — even if it’s just .01. In other words, there is no Texas DUI limit for alcohol. Any alcohol detected while driving a vehicle as a minor constitutes a DUI offense. This also means that a minor can be picked up whether or not they are fully intoxicated.

If a minor is pulled over and a police officer can detect signs of alcohol use or possession, they are allowed to perform a sobriety test. This is true even if they simply smell or see alcohol (you may want to read up on the Texas open container law). At this point, the officer has the authority to arrest the minor, tow the vehicle, and if necessary, take the minor to the hospital.

Check out everything you need to know about the Texas legal alcohol limit for driving.

What is the penalty for DUI in Texas?

Depending on the circumstances, a minor picked up for a DUI in Texas can find themselves facing a variety of consequences. These can include up to a $2,000 fine, 180 days in jail, and a one-year license suspension. However, these consequences are considered some of the worst of the worst for a minor charged with a DUI. A minor charged with a DWI is a different story (learn more about what’s the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas).

It is important to remember, though, that consequences tend to get worse with age, multiple offenses, and, of course, the seriousness of the situation. (Was someone hurt? How intoxicated was the individual? How old is the individual?)

Common DUI charges by age and number of offense

First-time DUI | Less than 17 years old | Class C misdemeanor

  • License suspension: up to 60 days (contingent upon completion of classes and community service and payment of fines)
  • Fines: up to $500
  • Community service: up to 40 hours
  • Classes on drinking and driving (may require parental attendance)

Not a first-time DUI | Between 17-20 years of age | Class B misdemeanor

  • License suspension: up to 1 year (contingent upon completion of classes and community service and payment of fines)
  • Fines: up to $2,000
  • Community service: up to 60 hours
  • Classes on drinking and driving (may require parental attendance)
  • Jail time: up to 180 days

For more information regarding DUIs in Texas, refer to Texas Penal Code Section 106.041.

Fighting charges for DUI in Texas

A DUI in Texas can come with some pretty heavy consequences for a minor. It’s critical to find the right representation to make sure a DUI early in life doesn’t impact a juvenile later in life. 

With the criminal defense lawyers of Thiessen Law Firm at your side, you can strategically navigate all the options available for your minor — including the possibility of charge dismissal, a plea bargain, and even expungement in Texas

Thiessen Law Firm’s Mark Thiessen is Triple Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, DWI Defense Law by the National College for DWI Defense, and DWI Law by the DWI Defense Lawyers Association. He also has won over 100 Not Guilty verdicts for his clients (Class B Misdemeanor to First Degree Felony) and 1000s of dismissals.

We have extensive history helping minors and adults overcome DUI and DWI charges, and we’d love to help you, too. Give us a call at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online form.

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.