What happens if you get caught drinking under 21 in Texas?

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016 by Brian Laviage

I get asked regularly what happens if you get a minor in possession in Texas and how to get an MIP off your record.

Minors are at risk of a minor in possession citation at a party, nightclub, or while riding in a vehicle when alcohol is present. A minor can be in the proximity of alcohol which belongs to another person, but cannot touch, hold, transport, attempt to purchase, consume or have any contact with alcohol.

It’s also important to note that Texas is a zero-tolerance state when it comes to anyone under the age of 21 drinking and driving. In Texas, minors can be charged with Driving While Intoxicated (“DWI”) and Driving Under the Influence (“DUI”).

The difference between the two charges is that DWI is class B misdemeanor and DUI is a class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500. Only a minor can get a DUI and a DWI if they are intoxicated. A person over the age of 21 cannot get a DUI. Conviction for the class C offense of DUI can trigger a driver’s license suspension much like a conviction for DWI.

DUI and MIP offenses in Texas are all class C misdemeanors punishable by a fine only. You still need to avoid a conviction for these offenses if you can. A conviction for one of these offenses will also trigger a driver’s license suspension.

Usually, the best way to handle these cases is to sign up for deferred disposition, which means at the end of the deferral the case will be dismissed. By law, any deferred disposition will require that you complete a certain number of community service hours and attend an alcohol awareness class. The fine and court costs associated with these offenses is usually run between $150 and $250 for a first offense.

Once dismissed, it can be expunged from your record, but not automatically. Under Texas law, you can expunge a single conviction for MIP after 21 by submitting an application for expungement directly to the court of conviction. Because local procedures vary by community, consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how these cases are handled in your area. We can help you erase your record as long as the case is dismissed.

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