Texas Alcohol Offenses Lawyer
Harris County and Galveston Alcohol Violations
A citation for minor in possession or any alcohol offense should not be treated lightly. In addition to driver’s license suspension, the misdemeanor conviction can affect the young person’s eligibility for sports, scholarships or college enrollment, as well as future employment opportunities.
The criminal defense attorneys at Tad Nelson & Associates provide knowledgeable and vigorous representation to underage youths caught with alcohol or adults accused of providing alcohol to minors. Based in League City, Texas, we practice in municipal and juvenile courts of Galveston County, Harris County, Houston and surrounding jurisdictions.
If your son or daughter is charged with an alcohol offense, contact us at (281) 280-0100 to discuss your child’s rights and how we can limit the consequences.
Minor in Possession and Other Underage Alcohol Offenses
Under Texas law, the following offenses are class C misdemeanors:
- Minor in possession of alcohol (MIP)
- Consumption of alcohol by a minor
- Open container
- Purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol by a minor
- Misrepresentation of age to buy alcohol (i.e., fake ID)
- Driving under the influence (DUI) — operating a car after drinking any alcohol
On a first offense, the punishment may include license suspension for 30 days and community service. On a second conviction for any combination of the above offenses, license suspension is 60 days. A third offense before age 21 can result in jail time, fines up to $2,000 and license suspension of 180 days.
Your child may qualify for deferred adjudication to keep the offense off their record and avoid the penalties. However, any deferment still counts as a conviction and third offenses are not eligible for deferred adjudication.
Our lawyers are also skilled at defending against the charges. Particularly in Galveston County, we are commonly able to get alcohol offenses dismissed entirely. In other jurisdictions, we can usually get charges reduced if not dismissed. If necessary, we are prepared to go to trial on a third or fourth offense to avoid the major consequences.
Selling or Providing Alcohol to Minors
We also represent owners of bars, liquor stores or restaurants, party hosts and other adults accused of alcohol offenses. Knowingly or negligently selling to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, and furnishing alcohol to a minor is a class B misdemeanor. A common scenario is a young adult over 21 who provided alcohol to friends who were not of legal age. While a conviction may carry jail time, we can often get these charges dismissed or reduced.
What Happens If I Let My Teenager Host a Drinking Party for Their Friends?
Underage drinking is not just a problem for the affected minors. Parents also have a responsibility to ensure that their children do not have access to alcoholic beverages. Some parents may think they can help their children learn how to use alcohol responsibly by allowing them to drink at home–even hosting “parties” for their teenage friends–but you need to be aware of the laws in this area.
While it is permissible under Texas law for a parent to give his or her own child alcohol in the privacy of their home, under no circumstances can you furnish alcohol to any other minor, i.e. anyone under the age of 21. Specifically, it is a Class A misdemeanor–one level below a felony charge–and carries a potential sentence of one year in jail and a $4,000 fine. In addition, an adult who allows underage drinking on their property may be liable for civil damages. So if you host a party where a minor, including your own child, drinks and then drives, you may be subject to a personal injury lawsuit if that minor subsequently injures someone in an accident.
Texas Cities Pass Local “Social Host” Bans
Some Texas municipalities have gone a step further than state law and adopted their own “social host” ordinances, which are specifically targeted at parents who are thinking about letting minors drink in their homes. For instance, the City of Odessa in west Texas recently passed such an ordinance that will fine adults up to $2,000 if they host parties with underage drinking in their homes. The ordinance also includes fines if adults rent a hotel or community room for the purpose of permitting underage drinking.
Odessa is believed to be the fourth Texas city that has adopted this type of social host ordinance. According to KWES-TV, Odessa police are undergoing additional training to focus on “gathering all the minors and finding and citing the adults” at any illegal underage drinking parties. And while existing state laws are unaffected by social host ordinances, KWES noted the local law “gives police another possible charge that may be easier to prove.”
Texas Has Zero Tolerance For Underage Drinking & Driving
Giving your child alcohol is risky no matter the circumstances. Remember, while it may be legal for your child to consume alcohol under your supervision, they can go out and drive afterwards. Texas is a “zero tolerance” state when it comes to DUI. This means it is against the law for a person under the age of 21 to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. In other words, the normal adult blood-alcohol content limit of 0.08 percent does not apply to minors.
Contact our Texas Misdemeanor Crimes Attorney
If your child has been charged with underage drinking and driving, you need to take the matter seriously. An experienced Texas DUI attorney can help you deal with the legal system and work to obtain a favorable outcome for your family. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates in Houston, Galveston, or League City to speak with an underage drinking lawyer today.