Like most parents, you always want what is best for your children. You dedicate your life to teaching them right from wrong and that mistakes have consequences. Unfortunately, young people sometimes make mistakes or get caught being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. When your child gets tangled up in legal situations like driving while intoxicated, it is important to be prepared and take the best steps to protect them and their future. In some cases, your child could make the situation worse after the arrest. With your help, you might be able to limit the damage before any damage occurs.
Even though you might be sympathetic to the position your child is in, the courts are unlikely to show them special treatment. In fact, an adult under the age of 21 could face additional charges compared to someone over the legal drinking age. If your child has been arrested for DWI in Houston, attorney Doug Murphy can help protect your child with the best advice from a Board Certified DWI lawyer.
DWI Penalties for Underage Drivers in Houston
The penalties for a DWI can vary depending on the age of your child. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol in Texas. In Texas, only minors are able to be arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI, which in Texas means "any detectable amount of alcohol"), whereas anyone over 21 will be arrested for DWI. A person under 21 can be charged with either DUI or adult DWI. A person 16 and under will be charged as either a DUI or a DWI in the juvenile courts.
Navigating through juvenile courts is drastically different than criminal courts due to the juvenile procure is focused on rehabilitation. That does not mean there are no consequences. There can still be stiff fines, suspension of driving privileges, and community service.
It should come as no surprise that the penalties for an adult charge of DWI are much higher. A first offense could result in 180 days in jail and a year-long suspension of driving privileges. A second offense is even more severe, with a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine of up to $4,000. Third and subsequent offenses are felonies that carry up to 10 years in prison.
In addition to these direct penalties, an underage driver could also face serious collateral consequences. A criminal conviction could cost your young driver their college admission and leave them with significant financial debt. Like with adult charges, however, your child's arrest for DWI does not guarantee a conviction. With the right attorney, it is possible they could beat the charges and avoid a mark on their record.
Steps to Take if your Child is Arrested for DWI in Houston
It is easy to be overwhelmed upon learning your child has been arrested. For many parents, this could be the first time their child has ever been in any trouble. Knowing what to do in this situation could help ensure your child's rights are protected. Consider the following steps as the best advice if your child has been arrested for DWI in the greater Houston metro area or throughout Texa.
This might sound simplistic, but no one will benefit from panicking. Remaining calm might seem easier said than done, but the reality is panicking could make matters worse. The prosecutor in your child's case only benefits if you seek to resolve the case immediately without the benefit of legal counsel. By remaining calm, you preserve your child's legal rights and improve their chances of a positive outcome.
Arrange for your Child's Release
No two DWI arrests are ever the same. In some cases, you might only learn of your child's arrest after they are released from jail. In other cases, however, you might be notified while they are still in police custody. For children under the age of 18, the police will typically contact you to arrange for taking the children home with a notice for a future court date. For a child over the age of 18, it is more likely they will stay behind bars until they sober up. A Houston DWI defense attorney might be able to secure their release early if you are able to take your child home immediately. Posting bond and arranging a release from custody is the first step.
Take Careful Notes
Every piece of information regarding your child's arrest is important. In many cases, you will only be provided with that information over the phone. Take careful notes of where your child is being held, which agency is responsible for the rest, and what the formal charges are. Make certain you note any future court date your child is required to attend. While a DWI charge is serious, accidentally missing a court date could put your child in an even worse position. Any information you could provide to your child's attorney might prove beneficial to their case.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
By far, the most important step you can take after your child is arrested is contacting a seasoned Houston DWI defense lawyer. An attorney can offer invaluable experience and insight on how to proceed with your child's case. Your child's recollection of the case could fade over time, making it important that they discuss the arrest with an attorney as soon as possible.
Moving quickly to secure an attorney could help protect your child's rights in other ways. You have only 15 days from the date of your Childs arrest to contest the automatic driver's license suspension that comes with a DWI, and an attorney could assist them with that process as well. Once the hearing is requested, the license suspension is no longer automatic.
Seek Help from a Houston DWI Defense Attorney
An experienced Houston DWI defense attorney could put your child in the best position possible to avoid serious consequences that might haunt them as an adult. Your child is entitled to a vigorous defense, and the right lawyer might be able to avoid a conviction entirely.
Attorney Doug Murphy has experience defending minors and adults in Houston DWI cases. Doug Murphy is a board-certified DWI specialist. He knows how to execute the best plan for a successful DWI defense. His extensive experience, reputation in the courts and proven track record of success have led to countless trial victories in the Houston area and throughout Texas. If your child has been arrested for DWI in Houston, call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. right away and schedule a free consultation.