A rite of passage for any teenager is getting a driver license. For many, another rite of passage is drinking alcohol. The two are a deadly mix. As most know, teens make up the highest risk of accidents amongst all groups of drivers. On top of that, Texas unfortunately leads the nation in the number of accidents related to driving while intoxicated (DWI), with about 2,000 each year.
In Texas and across America, the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) while driving is 0.08 percent. The legal drinking age is 21. Texas has a zero tolerance law for underage drinking. That means that a driver under the age of 21 with any detectable amount of alcohol has committed a violation. Young drivers account for many drug and alcohol related accidents because they reach higher alcohol levels more quickly than people with higher body weights and more experience digesting alcohol.
If a teenager (or anyone) is pulled over on suspicion of DWI and refuses to perform a breath or blood test, the driver license is usually immediately suspended for six months. The DWI penalties for teen drivers under the age of 21 can vary according to the amount of alcohol in their system, but the penalties generally are
- 30 days suspension for a first offense
- 60 days suspension for a second offense
- 180 days suspension for a third offense
DWI convictions also carry a heavy financial penalty called a conviction-based surcharge. This is an ongoing additional fine that must be paid for three years and can be thousands of dollars. Teen drivers may also be ordered to attend alcohol awareness courses and perform community service.
Finally, teens need to be aware that they can face legal liability for their actions. Every driver in Texas owes a duty of safety to others on the road. A violator of this duty can be held legally accountable for his/her actions through a lawsuit.
Teens must be informed about the severe consequences of DWI. If your teen is facing punishment, it’s best to consult an experienced San Antonio DWI attorney to protect your teen’s rights.