At Fulgham Law Firm P.C., our experienced Fort Worth underage drinking criminal defense attorneys recognize that most parents would probably prefer to assume that their teenager does not consume alcohol, teen drinking data provides a different picture. One study found that only one in a hundred parents believe their teenager engages in binge drinking, one in six teens actually do so according to MADD data. Further, the age at which teenagers are obtaining access to and drinking is falling with half of all tenth graders and thirty percent of all eighth graders admitting to drinking alcohol.
Despite these trends, a teenager or anyone under the age of 21 can be convicted of a Texas criminal offense if the individual is caught possessing or consuming alcohol subject to some limited exceptions. Texas law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from consuming, possessing, purchasing or using false identification to obtain alcohol. If the police arrest a minor for possessing alcohol, the minor may be charged with Minor in Possession of Alcohol under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code section 106.05.
Exceptions to Prohibition of Minor in Possession of Alcohol
- Parental Supervision: Someone who is underage may consume or possess alcohol under the direct supervision of a parent, adult spouse or legal guardian.
- Employment: While consumption of alcohol is not permitted during the course and scope of employment, possession of alcohol is not prohibited in the course and scope of employment.
- Emergency Medical Assistance: A minor who requests emergency medical attention for someone suffering from a suspected overdose of alcohol can avoid criminal liability for consuming or possessing alcohol provided: (1) the underage drinker is the first to summon help; (2) the minor remains at the scene while awaiting emergency responders to provide medical attention; and (3) he or she cooperates with medical and law enforcement responders.
- Enforcement of Minor Drinking Law: If the minor is part of an operation under the direct supervision of a law enforcement officer to enforce Texas minor in possession laws (such as a decoy in a sting of store selling alcohol to minors).
Penalties Imposed for Minor in Possession in Fort Worth
If you are arrested for violating Texas minor in possession law, you may be charged with a Class C misdemeanor which carries the following penalties: (1) fine up to $500; (2) driver’s license suspension 30 days for a first offense; (3) 8-12 hours of community service. The community service portion of the sentence must be related to alcohol education, rehabilitation or prevention of similar violations.
While these penalties may seem substantial they increase significantly for subsequent offenses. The driver’s license suspension increases to 60 days for a second offense, and 180 days for a third and subsequent offenses. If you are convicted more than twice, the third and subsequent conviction can include additional penalties, such as a maximum term of 180 days in jail and/or a fine of $250 to $2000. For purposes of determining sentencing in minor in possession cases in Fort Worth, completion of a deferred disposition program (i.e. diversion) will be considered a prior conviction.
At the Fulgham Law Firm P.C., we understand that youthful transgressions should not have life-long consequences so we work hard to protect minors accused of alcohol-related offenses. Contact our Fort Worth office now at 817-886-3078 for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced Fort Worth DWI Attorney.