DUI Under 21
For anyone younger than 21 years of age, it is a crime to drive or operate a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. If a police officer either arrested or issued you or your child a citation for driving under the influence in Texas, then you must appear before a municipal court judge or justice of the peace and answer this criminal charge. Most citations issued by a City of Frisco Police Officer are filed in the Frisco Municipal Court. If you are charged with DUI under 21, Frisco DUI defense attorney Waren Price can help.Understanding the Driving Under the Influence Statute
Driving Under the Influence by a Minor or "DUI" is not the same as Driving While Intoxicated or "DWI." Driving Under the Influence is a law found in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code which applies only to persons younger than 21. Section 106.041 prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle in a public place while they have any "detectable amount of of alcohol" in their system. Evidence confirming the presence of alcohol in a minor's system may be developed by a breath or blood test; however, it often comes solely from a police officer’s testimony that they smelled alcohol on the minor's breath.
Elements of the Offense of DUI Under 21:
- A person younger than 21 years of age;
- operates a motor vehicle;
- in a public place;
- with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system.
What is "Under the Influence"?
This is an oddly named law in that the name suggests that in order to commit the offense you must be under the influence of alcohol in your system. In fact, there is no such requirement in the statute, and "under the influence" is not an element of the offense. If there is found to be any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, no matter how small the amount, then you are subject to prosecution for the offense.
What is a "Detectable Amount"?
"Detectable amount" simply means that there is sufficient alcohol in the minor's system that its presence can be confirmed by some means. It does not mean that the Frisco Police or any other law enforcement agency is required to prove that the minor is intoxicated. If they are intoxicated, then they will likely be charged with the higher offense of Driving While Intoxicated or possibly Public Intoxication. A detectable amount may be confirmed by the odor of an alcoholic beverage on the minor's breath, an admission by the minor that they recently consumed alcohol, or by the testing of the minor's breath or blood.Defenses to Minor DUI
Driving Under the Influence by a Minor is a serious charge that unfortunately is not investigated as thoroughly as the higher level offense of Driving While Intoxicated. While DWI investigations typically involve field sobriety testing, breath testing, and often blood testing, DUI under 21 investigations may not involve anything more than the officer concluding they smelled alcohol. An inadequate investigation or the minor's actual innocence may give rise various legal and factual defenses.
Common Defenses to Minor DUI:
- Minor was not "operating" a motor vehicle;
- Minor had not consumed any alcoholic beverages;
- No alcohol in minor's system due to passage of time;
- Minor was not in a public place.
An experienced DUI defense attorney will work with you to identify the defenses and present those defenses to the City of Frisco Municipal Court prosecutor or to a judge or jury. Frisco DUI defense lawyer Waren Price will work with you to identify defenses in your case and develop a strategy to insure the best outcome.
Penalties for DUI by Minor:
Driving Under the Influence by a Minor is a class C misdemeanor. While Class C’s are generally considered lower level offenses, the penalties for committing DUI under 21 are much more serious than a typical citation. If a minor is accused of DUI, they face fines, court costs, community service hours, alcohol and drug awareness classes, and suspension of their driver's license. Repeat offenders will face enhanced penalties.Hire an Experienced Frisco DUI Lawyer
If you or your child has a DUI charge that has been referred to the Frisco Municipal Court, call Frisco DUI defense attorney Waren Price. The City of Frisco Municipal Court Judge will hold your child accountable if that is the right thing in their case. You need to insure that your child's rights are protected, and that they receive an effective defense.
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