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Criminal Matters/Traffic Violations

Alcoholic Beverage Laws for Minors

If you are under 21 years of age, you can be prosecuted and punished for purchasing, attempting to purchase, possessing or consuming alcohol, misrepresenting your age, possessing a fake ID, and public intoxication.

The following penalties shall be imposed:

First Offense:
Class C Misdemeanor: $0 - $500
Alcohol Awareness Course
8-12 hours community service
30 days driver�s license suspension or denial

Second Offense:
Class C Misdemeanor: $0 - $500
Possible alcohol awareness course
20-40 hours community service
60 days driver�s license suspension or denial

Third Offense:
Class B Misdemeanor: $250-$2000 fine and/or confinement in jail up to 180 days
Possible alcohol awareness course
180 days driver�s license suspension or denial

Zero Tolerance for Consumption while Driving
It is illegal in Texas for anyone under 21 to drive while having any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor�s system. Note that this is much easier for the state to prove than the requirements for DWI. Punishment ranges for this offense are greater than those listed above. For a third offense the penalties include fines up to $2000 and/or confinement in jail up to 180 days, 180 days driver�s license suspension with ineligibility for an occupational license, and no eligibility for deferred adjudication.
Note that Baylor University may impose sanctions in addition to any criminal penalties.

Driving While Intoxicated

In Texas it is a crime to operate a motor vehicle if one does not have the normal use of his mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol or any other substance. There is a legal presumption of intoxication if a person�s blood alcohol level is at least 0.08%.

Punishments for DWI are severe, and pretrial and probation penalties increase with each offense.

A first offense is classified as a Class B Misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $2000, jail term of 72 hours to 180 days, required participation in an alcohol education and treatment program and license suspension from 90 days to one year.

A second offense is classified as a Class A Misdemeanor with a possible fine of up to $4000, jail term of up to one year with a minimum confinement of 30 days, license suspension from 180 days to two years and community service not less than 80 or more than 200 hours.

For a third and subsequent offenses the possible fine increases to $10,000, prison term of two-ten years, license suspension up to two years, mandatory electronic monitoring of the person�s vehicle(s) and community service not less than 160 hours or more than 600 hours.

Nothing is worth the risk of being charged with DWI. In terms of legal fees, bail money, effect on your insurance rates, effect on your driver�s license, time out of class to defend yourself against the charges, possible criminal penalties and sanctions imposed by Baylor, effect on future employment possibilities, and danger to other drivers or passengers, the potential costs are very great.

Additional information:

1. If it can be shown that at the time of the DWI offense the driver had an open container of alcohol in his possession, punishments can increase substantially.

2. A driver may refuse breath and blood tests at the time of arrest. Refusal to take the test will result in suspension of his driver�s license for at least 120 days if he is under 21 and 90 days if he is over 21. However, for failing the test, his license will be suspended for 60 days for either age group. This time period increases for repeat offenders. All drivers must pay about $100 to have their licenses reinstated after the suspension period.

3. Since September 1, 2003, a surcharge has been assessed yearly on the license of a person who, during the preceding 36-month period has been finally convicted of an offense relating to the operating of a motor vehicle while intoxicated. The amount of the surcharge will be $1000 per year for the first conviction, $1500 per year for a second or subsequent conviction within a 36-month period, and $2000 per year for a first or subsequent conviction where it is shown that the blood alcohol level at the time of the offense was 0.16 or more. A surcharge for one offense may be charged for no more than three years.

Speeding Tickets

If you receive a speeding ticket and meet all of the following qualifications, you are eligible for deferred disposition of your ticket and dismissal of the ticket after 180 days upon completing all the requirements and providing proof to the court that the requirements have been completed:

a. You have a Texas driver's license,
b. You are charged with driving at a speed less than 25 miles per hour over the posted speed limit,
c. You show proof of insurance or financial responsibility, and
d. Your driving record does not show that you have completed a driving safety course within the 12 months preceding the offense.

To be allowed to take advantage of this you must do the following:

a. Enter a plea of no contest or guilty before the answer date on the notice to appear,
b. Send a written request to the court by certified mail postmarked before the answer date on the notice to appear requesting to take the course,
c. Provide proof of financial responsibility to the court before the answer date,
d. File an affidavit with the court stating that you are not taking and have not taken a driving safety course for the dismissal of a ticket within the 12 months preceding the ticket.

The information above and the form for doing this are usually included on your ticket. You will likely be required to take an approved driver safety course generally within 90 days, pay an administrative court fee, pay the cost of the ticket, and, in addition, you may have to pay to obtain a copy of your driving record.

Upon completion of the course, it is your responsibility to see that the court receives all of the documentation before the date set for completion. You should take care of this either in person or send it by Certified Mail.

Once all of the requirements have been completed and turned in, the court will dismiss the ticket, report the completion of the course to the DPS for inclusion on your driving record, and the ticket itself may not be a part of your driving record or used for any purpose.

Since September 1, 2003, drivers who accumulate at least six points on their driving record are required to pay an annual surcharge of $100 for the first six points and $25 for each additional point. Drivers will receive two points for moving violations and three points for moving violations that result in accidents. No points may be received for moving violations handled as described above, and no points may be assigned for speeding offenses where the driver is convicted of going less than 10% over the posted speed limit.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What if I am arrested and the police do not read my rights?

Before you can be questioned by the police while being detained, you must be told that:

a. you have the right to remain silent
b. any statement you make may be used as evidence at trial
c. you have the right to the presence of an attorney
d. if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning takes place

Reading your rights only affects the ability of the police to question you or conduct a search along with the arrest and the ability of the prosecution to use the evidence obtained against you at trial.

If you ask for an attorney or ask to terminate the interview, the police must cease all questioning until you have an attorney present. However, if you thereafter volunteer any information or make any statements, you may waive your right to remain silent.

2. What should I do if I am arrested?

You must identify yourself. Failure to do so is a crime. Do not physically resist or try to get away from the police. This can lead to further charges and penalties against you. Be respectful. Ask if you are under arrest and what the charge is. Then ask to call an attorney or request that one be appointed for you. Be aware that, if you say anything further, it might be used against you.

3. What happens if I am stopped while driving?

Show your driver's license and proof of insurance. You may refuse a search of your vehicle. The police cannot search it unless you give consent, probable cause exists that a crime is being committed, or you have been arrested and the car impounded.

4. What happens if the police come to my house or apartment? Insist before allowing them in to see a warrant. If they have no warrant, demand to know the purpose of their visit. Remember, if you invite them in or even acquiesce and let them in, you will be deemed to have consented. Do not run or hide or lie. If you are in doubt, say nothing.

5. Can I have a criminal conviction removed from my record? Under certain limited circumstances you may have a criminal conviction �expunged� from your record. For more information on this contact an Attorney for an appointment.

Additional Resources

Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children
2323 Columbus Avenue
Waco, Texas 76701
24-hour HOTLINE Number (254)-752-7233

Baylor University Police Department

Baylor University Online Alcohol Screening

Lawyer Referral Service

McLennan County
Information about courts and tickets

Rape Crisis and Crime Victims

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission

Texas Department of Public Safety

Texas Statutes

Waco Police Department

This site is meant for the exclusive use of students enrolled at Baylor University. This site was written for informational purposes only and should NOT be relied upon as legal advice. Individuals should seek the advice of an attorney regarding specific legal problems. This site contains general information about Texas law and does not apply to any other state. There is no warranty made that the material within this site is accurate or that it is completely free of errors. Students should verify statements and NOT rely upon them as legal advice.

Modified 1-29-09