Underage drinking is generally a mild offense in the state of Texas but can result in a variety of collateral consequences. Repeat offenders can face hefty fines and possible jail time if over the age of 17.
However, Texas law also provides safety for minors who have drunk alcohol to report crime or health calls without fear of reprisal. In this article, we’ll touch on Texas’s underage drinking laws and its nuances.
Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer in Travis County, Texas
Jackson F. orski understands the complexities of underage drinking laws, ensuring a thorough defense tailored to your unique situation.
Underage Drinking Information Center
- How Texas Defines Underage Drinking
- Possible Penalties for Underage Drinking in Texas
- Extenuating Circumstances
- Possible Defenses to Underage Drinking Charges in Texas
- Additional Resources
- Hire an Underage Drinking Defense Lawyer
Jackson F. Gorski is ready to defend you or your child in cases of underage drinking. Gorski is an experienced public defender with a history of successful alcohol-related cases including DUI and DWI.
The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin and Georgetown but accepts clients throughout Texas including Travis County, Williamson County, Bell County, Bastrop County, Burnett County, Hays County, Caldwell County, Blanco County, Lee County, Milam County, Hays County, and Caldwell County. Your first consultation is free, so call 512-960-4646 today.
Underage Drinking Statute
Section 106.04 of the Texas Code outlines plainly that any person under the age of 21 commits a criminal offense if he or she consumes an alcoholic beverage. The statute does not make a distinction regarding types of alcoholic drinks or BAC content.
Minors drinking while under the supervision of a parent or guardian are allowed to do so, however.
Penalties for Underage Drinking
Underage drinking is a Class C misdemeanor. This means that it can carry with it the possibility of a fine as high as $500.
However, with other juvenile crimes in Texas, minors found guilty of underage drinking may be eligible for deferred adjudication. This means that the minor can instead face 8-40 hours of community service, attendance of an alcohol awareness class or temporary loss or denial of one’s driver’s license.
While minors are generally eligible for deferred adjudication, repeat offenders are not. Section 106.04(d) states that a minor who has been twice convicted of consuming alcohol is not eligible for deferment. While Texas Law does generally attempt to provide rehabilitation efforts for minors, it does step in for repeat behavior.
Those over the age of 17 that are convicted of underage drinking can face fines up to $2,000, loss of driver’s license and 180 days of jail time for serious offenses.
Texas law provides protections for protect minors attempting to report crimes or request medical services without fear of reprisal. The following are scenarios in which a minor who has been drinking cannot be convicted of doing so.
Texas recognizes that alcohol overdoses are common for minors and makes provisions for those requesting aid. However, protections only extend as the first caller.
In order to receive protection for emergency medical services, the minor must:
- Be the first person to request medical assistance.
- Stay on the scene until medical assistance arrives.
- Cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel.
One of the reasons that Texas cracks down on underage drinking is because of the increased likelihood of sexual assault. The law provides protections for those who look out for one another.
This means that any person or persons who report a sexual assault, including victims, are eligible for protection from section 106.04. These protections last while reporting to:
- a health care provider treating the victim of the sexual assault.
- an employee of a law enforcement agency, including an employee of a campus police department of an institution of higher education.
- the Title IX coordinator of an institution of higher education or another employee of the institution responsible for responding to reports of sexual assault.
Common Defenses Against Underage Drinking Charges
Lack of Probable Cause or Unlawful Search and Seizure
If law enforcement did not have a valid reason (probable cause) to stop, search, or detain you, it may be possible to challenge the legality of the arrest.
False Identification or Mistaken Identity
If there is evidence that someone else used your identification to purchase alcohol or to gain entry to a place where alcohol is served, you may be able to argue mistaken identity.
Failure to Mirandize
If law enforcement fails to properly advise you of your Miranda rights during the arrest, certain statements made during the arrest may be inadmissible in court.
Inaccurate Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Testing
Challenging the accuracy of the blood or breath test results is a common defense. Issues with the testing equipment, maintenance, or administration of the test may be grounds for dismissal.
In some cases, if you were consuming alcohol under parental supervision and with their consent, you may have a defense. Texas law allows minors to consume alcohol on private, non-alcohol-selling premises with parental consent.
If law enforcement coerced or encouraged you to engage in underage drinking when you otherwise would not have, it may be possible to argue entrapment.
TABC – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission website provides additional information on Texas drinking laws.
Texas for Safe and Drug Free Youth – This site provides statistics on alcohol use in teens as well as some of the short and long term side effects of alcohol abuse.
Hire an Underage Drinking Lawyer in Travis County, Texas
The Law Office of Jackson F. Gorski has offices in Austin, TX, but accepts clients throughout the State of Texas including:
- Bastrop County
- Bell County
- Burnet County
- Caldwell County
- Lee County
- Hays County
- Williamson County
- Milam County
- Travis County
Your first consultation is free, so call 512-960-4646 today.