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A Houston DWI Lawyer Explains What Will Happen to Your Teen If Charged with Underage DUI

Published: Dec 10, 2018 in DWI, Juvenile Crimes

It is exciting and scary when your teen gets their driver’s license. If you provide them with a vehicle, they can get to school, after-school activities, and social events on their own. It can be a relief for your schedule. But the license and a car also give them a great deal of freedom and puts them at risk. They could get hurt in a crash. They could cause a collision. They could speed and get ticketed. Or, they could make the wrong choice of drinking or doing drugs before getting behind the wheel. Then, you will receive a call that your child has been arrested for underage driving under the influence (DUI), and you have to figure out what to do next. We recommend calling a Houston DWI/DUI lawyer right away after your child has been charged.

If your teen has been arrested for driving while under the influence, you have options. To learn more through a free case consultation, contact a Houston underage DUI lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett. Contact us today at (713) 222-6767 for help with a dwi defense.

Your Teen May Go Through the Juvenile Court System

If your teenager is 15 or 16 years old and arrested for an underage DUI, they will face charges in the juvenile court system. If they are 17 years or older, they will go through the adult system.

You are in luck if your child is young enough to go through the juvenile courts. This system is not intended to punish adolescents, but instead focuses on rehabilitation to prevent future offenses. If your child goes through the juvenile court process, they may be eligible for a first offender program. Successful completion of such a program may enable them to avoid an adjudication. If they are found to have committed an underage DUI in a juvenile court, they face the following potential consequences:

  • Up to 40 hours of community service
  • Fines reaching $500
  • A driver’s license suspension of up to 180 days

What Happens When Your Teen is Arrested for an Underage DUI

If your child is arrested for an underage DUI, they will be taken to a juvenile facility, and you will be notified of this. They will meet with a juvenile intake officer who decides how their case moves forward. Your son or daughter will likely be asked to submit to chemical tests, such as breath or blood tests. If your child’s health appears to be in danger, the police will take them to a hospital.

One of the immediate concerns is whether your son or daughter will be detained or released to you. A child will likely be detained if they are accused of a violent or serious crime. They also may be kept in detention if they are believed to be a danger to the public or a flight risk.

Intake officers use different assessment tools and techniques during the screening process to determine the need for detention. If the DUI did not cause an accident, and your child does not have a criminal history, then they may be released into your custody.

If the intake officer chooses to detain your child, then the first juvenile court hearing will be a detention hearing. It is held within 48 hours from the date your teen is detained. At the hearing, a judge or magistrate will determine whether it is safe for your son or daughter to be released. If the judge or magistrate decides that your teen should be detained further, another hearing must be held in 10 business days.

What About First Offender Programs?

If this is your teen’s first underage DUI arrest, then the intake officer may release them to your custody and refer their case to a first offender program. These programs are intended to keep teens out of the juvenile justice system and use community-based efforts to prevent another offense.

Your teen may be required to complete community service or complete certain education requirements, pay restitution to the victims of their drunk or drugged driving, and/or go through counseling or rehabilitation services. If your son or daughter completes the first offender program, then the underage DUI charges are dropped, and they will avoid an adjudication.

However, if your teen fails to complete the program requirements or is arrested again with 90 days of completing the program, then their case will be referred to the juvenile court.

Contact a Houston DWI Lawyer for Help Today

When your child is arrested for underage DUI, your first thought is likely to go to the police station or juvenile facility and pick up your son or daughter. After locating your child and learning about the charges against them, you should reach out to a criminal defense lawyer. By retaining the help of a skilled attorney, you’re taking the steps to protect your child’s future.

To schedule a free, initial consultation of your case, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767, or reach out via our online form.