My son was charged with Driving under the Influence? What does this mean? What do I need to know?
Texas law states that a minor (under the age of 21) commits an offense of a DUI (a Class C misdemeanor) if he operates a motor vehicle in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system. This is a much lower standard than is required to arrest a person for a DWI. A detectable amount means that a minor does not have to have a Blood Alcohol Content level of .08 or higher like with a DWI, but can be arrested for simply the smell of alcohol on his breath.
More than likely your son was either issued a citation — along with a notice of license suspension for this charge or he may have been arrested; both are permissible by law. During the initial traffic stop, after the officer determines that the person they are investigating is in fact a minor, he may issue a citation for a less serious offense or decide to conduct field sobriety tests if he has reasonable suspicion to believe the minor was severely impaired. If the officer arrests him for not satisfactorily completing the field sobriety tests, he may also request a breath or blood specimen to test his blood alcohol content. When your son was charged with DUI, his license will be suspended. The suspension is the same administrative license revocation (ALR) process that is used in DWI cases. There is a 15 day period to request a hearing after being issued a citation or being arrested for a DUI to contest the license suspension.
If this was the first time the minor was stopped for drinking and driving, the judge may order:
a 60 day driver’s license suspension;
up to a $500 fine;
20 to 40 hours of community service;
and/or mandatory attendance of alcohol-awareness classes.
If he doesn’t complete the conditions set out by the judge within the allotted time, then his license may be suspended for up to six months.
If this isn’t the minor’s first time being convicted of a DUI then the judge may order:
A fine between $500 and $2,000;
40 to 60 hours of community service,
and a sentence of up to 180 days in jail.
If your son is under the age of 18, the court may require you or another parent/guardian be present with your son at every court appearance. The court may also require you attend the alcohol-awareness class with your son. However, the court may allow an attorney to appear on your son’s behalf at the court appearances.
Just because he is under the age of 21 does not mean he will automatically be charged with a DUI rather than a DWI. An officer may arrest a minor for the more serious offense of DWI if the circumstances warrant such a charge.
If the minor had a BAC of .08 or greater he could be punished with the same penalties that apply to a DWI:
a $2,000 fine,
72 hours to 180 days in jail,
and a driver’s license suspension of 90 days to one year.
Having your son or daughter arrested or issued a citation for a DWI or DUI can be very stressful and nerve racking for you as a parent. You need to find a reputable attorney that will fight hard to have your child’s case dismissed and will fight as if it were for their own child.