Are you or a loved one facing a charge of underage alcohol possession in Texas? In this post, we’ll discuss the law and associated penalties, so that you can understand what you’re up against.
What the Law Says in Texas
In Texas, an individual under the age of 21 is prohibited from following acts:
- You are not permitted to buy alcohol.
- You are prohibited from possessing alcohol.
- You can be held liable for consuming alcohol.
- You can be prosecuted for intentionally obtaining alcohol while using false information.
- You are not allowed to operate a motor vehicle or watercraft while under the influence of any alcohol, as stated by Texas zero tolerance laws.
- You can be tried for importing or possessing alcohol with an intent to import it into the state of Texas.
Four Exemptions to Know about
As a sidebar or caveat to the possession law, there are four distinct exemptions for minors:
- A minor of at least 18 years old employed in a place that serves or sells alcohol can possess alcohol while working. However, the minor is not permitted to consume alcohol, nor serve, sell, or prepare mixed beverages.
- The law permits a minor to consume or possess alcohol while being viewed by their parent, guardian, or adult spouse.
- A minor may possess or buy alcohol if he or she is part of an undercover sting operation or other law enforcement action.
- If an individual has an alcohol overdose, they will receive immunity for alcohol possession and consumption if the minor is the first one to report the overdose, stays on the scene, and cooperates with emergency personnel.
Punishments Associated with Underage Alcohol Possession
A class C misdemeanor charge is the standard penalty for a violation. This charge comes with a fine of up to $500 and between 8 to 12 hours of community service. The service hours must be linked to alcohol awareness programs or other programs the judge decides are appropriate for the offense. Also, a minor’s driver’s license can be revoked for 30 days in a first-time offense.
A second offense will result in 60 days of license revocation. Each additional offense will result in 180 days of license revocation. Fines may be imposed by the judge for subsequent offenses, ranging from $250 to $2,000 each time. The judge may also impose jail time of up to 180 days for subsequent offenses.
A class A misdemeanor charge applies to any individual who provides or sells alcohol to minors, or purchases alcohol for minors. Penalties for a class A misdemeanor charge are up to one year in jail, $4,000 in fines, or both. A judge may also impose up to 40 hours of community service.
Any retailer who sells, dispenses, or serves alcohol to a minor is subject to a revocation of the liquor license or permit. The maximum length of the revocation is 60 days for a first offense, three months for a second offense, and 12 months for a third offense.
The Importance of Fighting Underage Possession Charges
A minor in possession charge is a big deal. It can disrupt your family, schooling, employment, and more, making it much harder to live a normal life.
Your best chance at avoiding conviction is to work with an experienced Texas criminal attorney who will work to protect your rights and put together the strongest possible defense to fight your charges. Get in touch today for a free case review.
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.