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Juvenile DUIs: Not just a problem for youth

When a juvenile makes a mistake, the courts generally treat them with the grace you'd expect from a parent or adult figure. They know that juveniles make mistakes and the impact that a conviction or other harsh penalties could have.

The truth is, though, that the court cannot ignore if a juvenile commits a crime. Even something as seemingly minor as driving while intoxicated has to be approached in the right way.

What happens when a minor faces a DWI in Texas?

When a minor, in this case anyone under 21, is found to be intoxicated and is charged with a DWI, there are several penalties they could face including up to a year of a suspended license and be forced to go through an Alcohol Education Program (a 12-hour program). Sometimes, alternatives might include a 90-day suspension if the minor agrees to have an ignition interlock device installed into their vehicle. Community service may also be ordered by the judge presiding over the case.

If a minor accepts the ignition interlock device, then a special driver's license will need to be issued to them to be able to drive their vehicle with the device in place.

Outside of a DWI, a minor can have their license suspended if they violate alcohol laws in other ways such as by purchasing alcohol, consuming alcohol, misrepresenting their age, being intoxicated in public, attempting to buy alcohol or consuming alcohol (except in some restricted situations).

What should you do if you're accused of an alcohol-related offense and are under 21?

If you are a minor and are accused of an alcohol-related offense it's a good idea to discuss the charges with your parents or guardian and an attorney. In some cases, minors' parents can also face penalties, particularly if they provided alcohol to minors knowingly and in unexempted situations.

No two cases are exactly the same, which is why having an attorney on your side is important. They're familiar with the court system and everything that is involved in defending a minor's rights after a DWI accusation or other alcohol-related crimes.

Juveniles make mistakes, and it is important that they learn from them. However, it's also necessary for them to protect their rights in Texas and their futures. A DWI can threaten their options in the future, so it's essential to do all you can to help prevent yourself or your child from getting a conviction.

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