Teens and young adults make mistakes. They'll often encounter alcohol at parties or on outings with friends, and sometimes they don't fully understand the ramifications of getting behind the wheel after just a few drinks. If your child is a student-athlete in high school or a good college prospect, a DWI conviction can become a very serious matter instead of simply a learning moment for a young adult finding their way in the world. But the good news is that you don't have to figure this out alone. An expert in DWI law, like attorney Doug Murphy, can help.
It's important to take an arrest for a DWI seriously and seek legal guidance as soon as possible. If you're a promising young athlete, or if your child is, a DWI conviction can devastate your future in football. That's what a University of Missouri linebacker discovered after a March arrest for a DWI.
Mizzou Football Player Charged with DWI
On March 19, 2023, the Boone County, Missouri, Sherriff's Office arrested a University of Missouri linebacker shortly after 3 am. Sherriff's deputies pulled the linebacker over near the Columbia, Missouri, campus for a lane violation and driving with expired plates. He reportedly failed a sobriety test, and the deputies took him into custody. He was released on a $500 bond.
The linebacker was a “super senior” and served as the University of Missouri football team's captain for the 2022 season, and he started in 11 games. He was expected to be one of the team's 2023 season's top defensive players. However, the university athletics department reported that they had indefinitely suspended him after his DWI charge per university policy. A statement from coach Eli Drinkwitz reported, “We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey. He's been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.” The player's future on the Mizzou team is now unclear. While this article deals with the consequences of a Missouri DWI to a Missouri college player, it's a good illustration of what can happen to a promising college or high school player in any state, including Texas.
Potential Consequences of a DWI
The specific consequences of a DWI may vary based on whether you are under or over 21, but both can impact your future as a high school or college football player.
DWI Over 21
Under Texas law, anyone, regardless of age, can face a DWI charge for operating a motor vehicle in a public location if:
- You have a BAC over the legal limit of .08%, or
- You no longer have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties.
This means you can still face a DWI charge if you are under 21 or 18 if you are legally intoxicated. However, if you are under 21, you may face an additional charge for driving under the influence. A first DWI conviction is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a license suspension, a $3,000 court-imposed fine, and a $3,000 mandatory administrative fine. However, aggravating circumstances such as a serious injury or death to another person, a person under 15 in the car, or other aggravating circumstances can raise even a first DWI to a felony charge.
Texas is what is known as a “zero-tolerance state.” That means it's illegal for anyone under 21 to operate a vehicle with any detectable amount of drugs or alcohol in their system, known as driving under the influence of alcohol. Sometimes you'll see this abbreviated as DUI or DUIA. You can face a DUI charge if you are under 21, even if your BAC is under .08%.
In Texas, a minor commits a DUI if“the minor operates a motor vehicle in a public place, or a watercraft, while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor's system.” See Tex. Penal Code § 106.41 (2009). In addition to the DUI charge, the police may charge drivers under 21 with DWI if they are also legally intoxicated. So, you could face charges for both DUI and DWI if you are under 21.
Implied Consent for Blood Alcohol Testing
In Texas, drivers give “implied consent” to BAC testing. If a law enforcement official believes a minor was drinking and driving, they may request a breath test even if no adult parent or guardian is present. When a minor refuses a BAC test, the officer may get a blood test warrant anyway, and a minor can face a mandatory suspension of their driver's license for 180 days to two years for refusing the BAC test.
High School or College Football Career
It's important not to discount the serious repercussions to your Texas high school or college career if you receive a DWI. At the University of Texas, all athletes must comply with the Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, which contains strict rules regarding athlete behavior on and off campus. Under the Code, student-athletes must notify their coaches of any arrest within eight hours following release. Failure to do so can result in removal from their athletic program and losing scholarships. Students can also face removal or suspension from the athletic program for conduct relating to an arrest or conviction, including a DWI.
Similarly, at Rice University, the Athlete Code of Conduct holds student-athletes up as models of good behavior for the entire community. Athletes can be disciplined, suspended, or expelled even for posting social media content showing them using alcohol or drugs. While the policy doesn't specifically cover arrests for DWI, athletes can expect serious disciplinary consequences.
In Texas high schools, it's common to face disciplinary action, suspension from school, and suspension from athletic activities for drinking, even if it doesn't result in an arrest. Moreover, if you receive a DWI arrest in high school, many college student-athlete policies will require you to disclose this information, which may bar you from recruitment.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Defense
If you receive a DWI as a football player, the consequences can be far-reaching, affecting your ability to play in high school and college and potentially impacting a career in professional football. As a parent, if your child receives a DWI or DUI, the consequences can be heartbreaking. But it's hard to fully understand how a DWI or DUI charge could affect you or your child without discussing the legal and educational ramifications with an expert in DWI defense. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in both DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law in Texas. He is Board Certified in both these specialty areas of the law, with decades of experience handling complex DWI cases and the potential fallout. Recently, U.S. News and World Report's Best Lawyers in America named Doug a “Lawyer of the Year” in Houston for DWI defense in 2021 and 2023.
Doug and his skilled team at the Doug Murphy Law Firm have been helping Texans accused of DWI and DUI for years, and they can help you too. They've been on both sides of the aisle, working as prosecutors and defense attorneys, giving them unique insight into resolving DWI charges before they destroy lives. Find out how they can help you too. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm at 713-229-8333 or contact them online to schedule your consultation.