For teens, the holidays are a time of fun and celebration, particularly because school is out for winter break. College underclassmen may also be seeing their high school friends for the first time all semester.
All of these factors contribute to high rates of underage drinking over the holidays. Teen drinkers are also more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as binge drinking and driving under the influence.
Sadly, alcohol-related incidents are one of the most common causes of death for teens, with over 400 perishing monthly from alcohol-related deaths. Even barring the worst, teens can face serious legal repercussions if caught drinking underage.
Many Texas Teens Drink for the First Time During the Holidays
Many Americans drink more over the holidays for a variety of reasons, and teens are no exception. In fact, many teens take their very first drink over the holiday break.
More than 11,000 young people under 18 will try alcohol for the first time over the holidays. Unfortunately, some of them won’t make it to the New Year. Over 400 young people per month on average in alcohol-related incidents.
Teens Drink Less Often, But in Larger Quantities Than Adults
Unfortunately, underage drinking is also proven to lead to high-risk drinking behaviors. For instance, although teens drink less often than adults on average, they tend to drink more than adults when partaking.
In fact, teens frequently consume five or more drinks on a single occasion, which is considered binge drinking. Binge drinking can lead to fatal alcohol poisoning, or other dangerous behaviors, such as high-risk sexual activity.
Moreover, underage drinkers are more likely to get behind the wheel intoxicated, which can lead to tragic and fatal accidents. Even if your teen isn’t involved in an accident while drinking and driving, he or she could face a serious driving while impaired (DWI) charge.
Texas Minor in Possession Laws
If your teen is caught possessing or consuming alcohol this holiday season, they could face major criminal consequences, such as a minor in possession or driving while impaired (DWI) charge.
Charges Associated with Texas Underage Drinking
Under Texas State Law, the following acts are illegal if committed by a minor under 21:
- Purchasing an alcoholic beverage
- Attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage
- Presenting false identification in an attempt to purchase alcohol
- Possessing an alcoholic beverage*
- Consuming an alcoholic beverage*
- Operating a motor vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in the system
*Note, there are some circumstances in which a minor may possess and/or consume alcohol under the supervision and/or permission of an adult.
Speak to an experienced MIP defense attorney in order to confirm whether your specific scenario qualifies for exemption.
Penalties for Conviction of Underage Drinking in Texas
If convicted of MIP charges, an underage drinker could face some or all of the following criminal consequences:
- Fine of $250-$2,000
- Up to 180 days in jail
- Up to 40 hours of community service
- For offenses involving driving, suspension of the driver’s license
Perhaps more importantly, a criminal record can compromise your teen’s future. Most colleges consider applicants’ criminal histories.
They are often most concerned about alcohol-related offenses, as campus underage drinking is a major problem at many schools. For some offenses, your teen could also be barred from applying for federal financial aid.
Although it may be difficult to discuss underage drinking with your teen, having this important conversation now and not allowing your child to drink could prevent tragic injury or legal trouble, and protect your teen’s future.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.