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The consequences of underage drinking and driving

In Texas, just as in any other state, underage drinking and driving have dire consequences. Not only can the results end in fines, probation and jail time, but they can also end in death.

Texas parents may not realize the statistics or penalties that come with underage drinking. Knowing this information, parents may be able to keep their children from becoming another number in a government report.

The stats

Citing 2017 statistics, The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration published a report in 2018 concerning Texas’ underage drinking prevention and enforcement. The Texas population of ages 12-20 estimated around 3,600,00. Of those, almost 20% drank alcohol. The report gave figures on children ages 12 to 14. It found that 36,000 imbibed.

Death caused by alcohol consumption numbers around 375. Fatal crashes involving 15 to 20-year-old drivers came close to 160.

The law

Texas has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drivers who are drinking alcohol. There are two different punishment scenarios.

  1. If you are under the age of 21, you cannot have any detectable amount of alcohol in your system. Being stopped the first time may have you facing the following penalties:
  • A 60-day license suspension
  • Community service
  • Mandatory alcohol awareness classes
  • $500 fine
  1. The penalties increase if you are 17 or older and have a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. These include:
  • A license suspension for up to a year
  • Three to 180 days in jail
  • $2,000 fine

Not only is the driver penalized, but if an underage passenger is drinking, he or she may also receive punishment. Any minor found to be in possession of alcohol may receive:

  • $500 fine
  • Mandatory alcohol awareness classes
  • Community service
  • 30 to 180-day license suspension

Texas has the Implied Consent Law, which applies to everyone who gets pulled over for allegedly drinking and driving. This includes underage drinkers. Implied consent allows police officers to chemically test a person for alcohol levels. The officer can test by using either a breath test or blood test.