It’s hard to follow a law if you don’t know what it is in the first place. It’s common for us to meet with clients who broke a law, but didn’t know that it was even a law in the State of Texas. Here are a few fast facts about Texas alcohol laws that you should know:
The Texas Drinking Age
Like all U.S. states, the drinking age in the Lone Star State is 21 years of age. What you might not know, is that parents can allow their children to drink when they are under 21 if the parent is in the presence of the child. It’s important that you’re what’s called, “visibly present” while your 18, 19, or 20-year-old is drinking. Sitting around drinking with their parents probably isn’t what most 18/20-year-olds would call a good time, but it’s the only legal way for them to drink in Texas.
If you drink underage and your parents aren’t watching you do it, you’re guilty of Minor in Possession. Your first offense is a Class C misdemeanor and it carries a fine. Repeat offenders face increased penalties and a third MIP can land you in jail for up to 180 days. It’s important to speak with a qualified attorney if you’re facing this type of crime.
Open Container Laws
In Texas, you can’t have open alcohol in a moving vehicle. This is the case even if you’re not the driver. An open container doesn’t land you in jail by itself, but paying the $200.00 fine certainly isn’t fun for anyone. There are deferral programs available for certain offenders in some cases, so, again, it’s important to work with an attorney that knows the ins and outs of the Texas justice system.
Driving While Intoxicated Laws
Most people know that drunk driving in Texas is illegal, but they might not know what this means. In Texas, there are two ways to be a drunk driver. The first is to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs while you drive a motor vehicle. Most people don’t know that this can include being under the influence of medications, even if these medications are prescribed to you.
The second way to be a drunk driver in the State of Texas is to have an alcohol content of .08 or more for every 210 liters of breath. If you have that much alcohol in your system, it doesn’t matter if the alcohol influenced your ability to drive. You’re a drunk driver simply because you got behind the wheel, even if you drove perfectly.
If you have a lot of alcohol in your system (.15 or more per 210 liters of breath), you can face enhanced penalties if you’re caught drunk driving. Repeat drunk driving offenses come with increased penalties, too. A first drunk driving offense carries a criminal penalty of up to 180 days in jail, while a third offense can land you in prison for up to 10 years. Drunk driving can result in other harsh penalties, as well as jail, including suspension of your driver’s license. Drivers under the age of 21 may face a fine and suspension of their driver’s license for driving with any alcohol in their system, regardless of how much.
Conclusion – What to Do
Your best bet is to comply with Texas’ alcohol laws. Ultimately, these laws are for your safety and for the good of all of us. However, if you find yourself charged with an alcohol-related offense in the State of Texas, it’s always best to work with a qualified attorney. They can help you navigate the complicated court system to obtain the best result possible. Alcohol laws in Texas can cost you money, time, and most importantly your freedom.