You may find some of the Texas’ laws related to alcohol sales, consumption and possession quite surprising, and you may have unwittingly broken some of them in the past. By educating yourself on these laws, you can avoid inadvertently breaking them in the future.
Drinking Age in Texas
Like most states, the legal drinking age is 21 in Texas, which means you have to be 21 years old to purchase alcoholic beverages in a bar, restaurant or liquor store. While some bars will allow people in the door who are 18, 19, or 20, it is illegal to consume alcohol in those establishments if you are not 21 years old. However, in Texas, if a minor is in the presence of a parent or adult legal guardian over the age of 21, the minor is allowed to consume alcoholic beverages if the parent or guardian is visibly present. Also, if an 18-year-old is married to a 21-year-old, the 18-year-old may drink alcohol in the presence of the older spouse.
If you are underage and caught drinking without your parent or legal guardian present, you may be charged with what is referred to as “Minor in Possession,” which is a Class C misdemeanor that carries a fine for your first offense. Repeat offenders face increased penalties, and a third offense may result in a jail term of up 180 days.
Open Container Laws in Texas
It is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a car whether you’re driving. The fine for an open container in Texas is $200 for the first offense.
Drunk Driving in Texas
You can be charged with DUI in Texas if your blood alcohol content (or concentration) is 0.08 or higher. However, you don’t have to be under the influence of alcohol to be arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Medications can also lead to a DUI arrest even if a physician prescribed them to you. You can get charged with DUI in Texas if your blood alcohol content (or concentration) is 0.08 or higher.
A first drunk driving offense can land you in jail for 90 days, 180 days on the second conviction, and if you’re caught driving drunk three times, you can face a 10-year prison term. DUI is considered a felony on the third conviction.
In some cases, an ignition interlock device may be installed on a DUI offender’s vehicle. You can also count on having your driver’s license suspended or revoked if you’re a repeat offender. If you are under the age of 21 and are convicted of “Driving Under the Influence”, you will most likely pay a hefty fine and have your license suspended regardless of how much alcohol was in your system. Each case varies, but these are the general DUI laws for the state of Texas.
Dram Shop Law in Texas
A “dram shop” is any drinking establishment where spirits are sold and consumed (bars, taverns, lounges, nightclubs, restaurants). Under the Texas Dram shop law these places may be held liable for injuries caused by over-served patrons. For example, if a person drinks at a bar after it is clear that he is drunk, then leaves the bar and is injured (or injures someone else) on the way home, the bar may be held legally responsible.
In order to recover on a claim under this law, you must prove that the patron who caused your injuries was drunk to the extent that he was a danger to himself or others when the establishment continued to serve him alcohol.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence in Texas or any other alcohol-related offense, it’s imperative that you hire an experienced Texas DUI attorney as soon as possible.