As driving schools throughout Texas are doing their best to stand out; the lone star state has problems with drunk driving. For the past several years, Texas has led the country in drunk driving fatalities. Texas is also the only state in the country that consistently eliminates 1,000 deaths (1,235 in 2009, 1,258 in 2010, and 1,270 in 2011). These statistics don’t even include alcohol-related injuries and property damage, which are rising numbers even higher.
The truth to be faced is that Texas has a clear intoxication and driving problem. Driving schools continue to teach and report on the severity of the increasing penalties for driving while intoxicated. Good habits start in driving school and continue into the future, as approximately 15% of drunk driving deaths are due to the disability of a driver under the age of 21 (the legal limit for alcohol use). Tougher laws have been developed in an attempt to stem the increase in mortality; laws that can seriously undermine a young driver’s economic and driving independence. The following is a summary of some of the Texas laws for driving and drinking in the shortest time, and how those laws can make things difficult for a minor who is at risk and is caught.
First of all, Texas is a zero tolerance state. This means that if a minor who is arrested on suspicion is found to have ANY DETECTABLE amount of alcohol in his system, he has immediately committed a DUIA (Driving Under the Influence) offense; even if your BAC is below the legal limit. As a minor, they should not have contact with alcohol to begin with, so driving while drinking any amount is much more serious.
When stopped, the minor will be asked to take a breathalyzer test to verify their BAC. Again, if any BAC level is exceeded, the minor will be charged. However, rejecting the test could be much worse. Refusal of the breathalyzer, blood test, or field sobriety test will result in IMMEDIATE license suspension for a minimum of 120 days, and the suspension will increase for a second and third offense. In addition to suspension, the minor may be imprisoned and held until bail is posted or appears before a Juvenile Court magistrate.
The penalties themselves are largely dependent on the discretion of the judge, although there are defined minimum and maximum benchmarks. The laws given for DUIA offenses are:
1st offense DUIA – Class C Misdemeanor with a fine of up to $ 500.00 and between 20 and 40 hours of community service. The driver’s license can be suspended for up to a full year and completion of an alcohol awareness course at the driving school is required. If the minor is under the age of 18, their parents may also be required to take the course.
2nd offense DUIA – Class C Misdemeanor with a fine of up to $ 500.00 and between 40 and 60 hours of community service. License suspension for up to a full year is required, as well as the alcohol awareness course.
Third offense for DUIA: if the driver is under 17 years of age, the DUIA is presented as “Delinquent Conduct”. The penalty is up to a $ 500.00 fine and between 40 and 60 hours of community service. The license will be suspended until the minor is 19 years of age or older.
– If the minor is 17 years or older, DUIA is a class B misdemeanor that carries a fine of at least $ 500.00 up to $ 2,000.00, 40-60 hours of community service and up to 180 days in jail.
The problem is simply not worth the risk. Thousands of adults and children come to an end each year due to an avoidable drunk driving accident. These laws are in place to deter and prevent deaths so that we can begin to undermine these unfortunate statistics. For more information, contact your local driving school. And remember, zero tolerance.