Texas law prohibits individuals who are under the age of 21 to purchase, attempt to purchase, possess, or consume alcoholic beverages. It is also illegal for minors to be intoxicated in public or to misrepresent their age in order to obtain alcoholic beverages. Nonetheless, underage drinking in Galveston and the state of Texas continues to be a serious problem.
Trends in Underage Drinking in Texas
Despite heightened awareness of underage drinking in Texas and attempts to combat the problem, alcohol continues to be the most commonly used substance by Texas students; in fact, 71% of Texas students reported that they had used alcohol at some point, with average age of first usage being 13. According to another Texas secondary school survey, almost 50% of minors say alcohol is somewhat or very easy to obtain, and that they got the alcohol most of the time from friends or from going to a party.
One of the most common ways for teenagers to illegally obtain alcohol is to use fake IDs. This is particularly the case with college students seeking alcohol. Ten years ago, it was more difficult to obtain a fake ID or make an ID that looked real. With technological advances, however, it is now fairly easy to produce a high quality fake ID that even contains an actual picture of the teenager, rather than another person who resembles the teenager. For instance, this past April, Austin police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) worked together to successfully bust a massive fake ID ring on the University of Texas campus. Over two nights, authorities arrested 120 minors using fake IDs. They traced the fake IDs back to two sophomores who were producing fake IDs for other students for as much as $200 each.
TABC also has initiated “Operation Fake Out,” which is a partnership between TABC, alcohol beverage retailers, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the U.S. Secret Service, and local law enforcement agencies. This program allows law enforcement officials who are trained to spot fake IDs to work alongside retail employees in order to detect fake IDs. The partnership also focuses on developing intelligence about those who are manufacturing and providing fake IDs to minors.
Exceptions to Texas Law Prohibiting Minors From Drinking Alcohol
The general rule is that minors are not allowed to either possess or consume alcohol in the state of Texas. However, there are four exceptions to the Texas law that makes it illegal for minors to possess or consume alcohol, as follows:
- Employment – Minors may possess, but not consume, alcohol during the scope of their employment. Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Section 106.05(b)(1).
- Parental Supervision – Minors may possess or consume alcohol when in the presence of their parent, legal guardian, or adult spouse. Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.05(b)(2) and 106.04(b).
- Enforcement Actions – Minors may purchase or possess alcohol when directly supervised by a peace officer engaged in enforcing minor possession laws, such as during a sting operation. Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.05(b)(3) and 106.02(a).
- Emergency Medical Assistance – Minors can avoid prosecution under minor possession and consumption laws if they request emergency medical assistance for someone who has a possible alcohol overdose. However, the minor must:
- Be the first person to make the call for help;
- Remain on the scene until medical assistance arrives; and
- Cooperate with medical and law enforcement personnel.
Contact Your Galveston DWI Lawyer for Help with Alcohol-Related or DWI Charges
A criminal conviction as a teenager, even if it is only a misdemeanor, can have serious consequences for an individual. An alcohol-related offense can endanger one’s education and future career. If your teenager is facing any type of alcohol-related charges, you should not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates at (281) 280-0100 to set up an appointment with an experienced Texas criminal defense lawyer.