On May 22, 2020, a 17-year-old was arrested in College Station under suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Despite being a minor, he was charged as an adult with DWI and other charges. Two other people were also arrested after the 17-year-old allegedly crashed his truck following a police chase.
The arrest occurred after a police chase culminated in an accident near Southwest Parkway East. The chase occurred at approximately 9 p.m. in the evening. It began after the pickup truck operated by Compton nearly struck a police car stopped at an intersection.
According to the police report, the officer followed the 17-year-old and attempted to initiate a traffic stop. The 17-year-old fled and at some point allegedly reached 90 miles per hour while speeding through residential areas. Fearing a crash, the officer slowed down and called for additional units to search for the driver. In the meantime, the young man lost control of his vehicle and crashed.
Both of the individuals riding with the 17-year-old implicated him in driving under the influence of alcohol. According to the report, one of the passengers claimed he was on his tenth beer at the time the chase started. Based on the testimony, the young man was placed under arrest for DWI, possession of a controlled substance, and evading arrest. The passengers in the vehicle were arrested for tampering with evidence and public intoxication. The tampering with evidence charge stemmed from one passenger allegedly throwing beers out of the vehicle's window during the chase.
How DWIs Impact Minors in Texas
When it comes to alcohol, the law treats minors differently compared to adults. That does not mean that a person under the age of 18 can avoid a DWI charge. In fact, any driver aged 17 years old or older can face a DWI charge through the adult criminal system. This is why Compton faced an adult DWI charge despite being under the age of 18.
Drivers under the age of 17 can also be charged with DWI, but they will face these charges in juvenile court. Due to their age, the potential penalties involve suspended driving privileges and community service as opposed to jail time.
There are additional criminal offenses that a minor could face involving driving under the influence of alcohol. Texas takes a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. This means that even a minor driver that does not have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit could face criminal charges. A driver under the age of 21 with any detectable amount of alcohol in their bloodstream can be arrested for underage DUI.
Any criminal conviction, whether in juvenile or adult court, can have serious ramifications on a minor's life. This is particularly true for anyone charged with an alcohol-related offense. Given what is at stake, it is vital that anyone facing these charges seeks the help of experienced legal counsel. A Board Certified expert in DWI defense offers the most skills and experience available during this difficult time. Speak with a Houston DWI defense attorney immediately if you or a loved one are facing similar charges.