When parents discover that their son or daughter has been cited for underage drinking, they often do not know what to think. Most parents are aware that their minor children will try alcohol before they are 21 years old. However, they did not expect that this would necessarily involve a trip to the courthouse. In this country, parents have widely varying opinions on youth and alcohol. It is a small minority of parents that expect their children to fully abstain from alcohol use until they are 21. On the other extreme, some parents actually consume alcohol with their children when they are in their teens.
When a minor is charged with the crime of underage drinking, the parents’ first concern is usually trying to work a resolution where the offense is kept off of the minor’s record. Oftentimes, a resolution can be worked out where the offense is dismissed after one year if the minor agrees to go to classes, perform community services hours, or pay a small fine.
When a minor is facing a second or third offense for underage drinking, a parent will be concerned that the minor is abusing alcohol or is chemically dependent. Usually, every time that a minor is caught by the police, there are many other instances when they avoided detection. For a second offense, it is harder for a defense lawyer to avoid a conviction. Also, a judge will usually order the minor to obtain a chemical dependency evaluation.
Whether it is a first, second, or third offense, the court will typically order the minor to refrain entirely from consuming alcohol henceforward. Many college students view this as being unrealistic, and they will instead plan on simply being more careful to avoid detection. However, alcohol makes people careless and uninhibited, and the minors often will find themselves in contact with the police again. Enforcement of minor in possession laws is further complicated by the fact that individual police officers have different policies. Some police officers will look the other way when observing alcohol violations. Others can be quite strict.
It is uncommon for a minor to actually be incarcerated for underage drinking. Jail time can be imposed when a minor is on probation and re-offends. Jail time can also result when a minor has been diagnosed as chemically dependent and the minor fails to attend classes or fails urinalysis tests. If jail time does result, a defense lawyer will usually seek to have the defendant shipped to an inpatient alcohol rehabilitation center. Such an inpatient program is usually preferable to jail.
When a minor turns 21 years old, he or she can still be ordered not to consume alcohol if the judge sets that as a condition of probation. Likewise, a minor charged with underage drinking does not necessarily have his or her charge dismissed if they turn 21 when the offense is still pending. The goal of the criminal justice system is to rehabilitate the minors so that they do not find themselves in adult court for DUI offenses later in life.
Underage DWI Charges in Houston
Being charged with DWI can be a frightening experience for anyone, but especially so for those who are too young to legally drink alcohol. The consequences of an underage DUI conviction can mean possible jail time, drivers’ license suspension, and other serious legal and personal problems for a young person. If your minor child has been charged with DWI, it is to their benefit to have legal representation from an experienced Houston DWI attorney.
Our state has very strict DWI laws in place, especially in regards to underage drinking and driving. State lawmakers have enacted a “zero tolerance” to underage drinking and driving, and even the smallest amount of alcohol found in a young driver’s system can result in them being arrested and charged with DWI. Penalties for this offense can include monetary fines, community service, suspension of one’s drivers’ license, mandatory enrollment in DWI education classes, and even incarceration in jail or a juvenile detention facility.
Consequences of Underage DUI Conviction
The consequences of a conviction on underage DWI charges can be even more severe than those faced by adults. A minor child convicted of DWI may have a criminal record as a result, which can cause them difficulty in enrolling in college, obtaining a good job, or other problems. To decrease the chances of your child facing these hardships, it is important that you hire a lawyer who will work to aggressively protect their rights throughout their legal proceedings. The firm is committed to providing the highest quality, personal legal representation for young people facing DWI charges.
Contact a Houston DWI attorney if your minor child has been charged with DWI and is in need of immediate defense counsel to fight for their rights and future.