Lara Bracamonte Davila

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What is the Zero Tolerance Law for juveniles in Texas?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2021 | DUI

As the summer gets into full swing in Texas, teens will be out and about in force. That includes going to parties, going to barbecues, attending events and traveling. For many, that is an opportunity to drink alcohol even though it is illegal for people under 21. A byproduct is that they might decide to operate a motor vehicle or watercraft after drinking. This is also illegal and can result in a litany of serious penalties. The state has the Zero Tolerance Law to address this. For teens who are confronted with allegations that they have violated this law, it is important to understand what it entails.

Knowing the details of Zero Tolerance in Texas

There are various tenets to Zero Tolerance. People under 21 cannot operate a vehicle if they have any alcohol in their system. If it is a first offense, the minor will be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and face a fine of up to $500. They will also need to take part in an alcohol awareness program, perform 20 to 40 hours of community service and will have their driver’s license suspended for 60 days. Those who need their license for work will be forced to wait at least 30 days to be eligible.

Subsequent offenses have worse consequences. The misdemeanor level and fine remain the same as does the requirement to take part in alcohol awareness. Community service is doubled and the driver’s license suspension will be for 120 days with no occupational license for 90 days. If it is a third offense, there is no deferred adjudication meaning that the conviction cannot be kept off the cranial record if there is a conviction. There will be a driver’s license suspension 180 days and no occupational license for that entire time. Minors who are at least 17 will be fined $500 to $2,000 and run the risk of jail for up to 180 days.

Having a comprehensive defense can help with Zero Tolerance charges

Juvenile crimes do not have the severe penalties adult crimes do. Still, with alcohol-related offenses and underage DUI/DWI, being arrested as a juvenile can cause immediate challenges and extend to adulthood. In addition to the penalties listed, it can also result in problems getting certain jobs, being accepted to universities and trade schools, and prevent admittance into the military. In some instances, law enforcement is overzealous and makes mistakes in the investigation. The evidence might be faulty and a teen could have been innocent and gotten caught up in a crackdown. There are strategies that can aid a defense. Having experienced guidance throughout the process may help with achieving a positive outcome.