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DON’T DUNK AND DRIVE! Common Alcohol Offenses on Ring Dunk Weekends

DON’T DUNK AND DRIVE! Common Alcohol Offenses on Ring Dunk Weekends

Congratulations are in order to all the Aggies who received their Aggie rings this Friday!

Once you have successfully BTHO 90 hours, you get the honor of wearing the Aggie gold. To celebrate, you might even choose to participate in a dunk. In Aggieland, there’s a not-so-official tradition of dunking your Aggie ring (for those not familiar, dunking is the act of dropping your new ring into a pitcher of beer and chugging the pitcher to get your ring back). But dunking doesn’t come without risks.

There are a number of criminal charges you could potentially receive from a night of drinking at a ring dunk:

  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Public Intoxication
  • Minor in Possession
  • Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor
  • and many more.

You might think to yourself, “It’s fine, I have a high tolerance!” But there is still a legal limit to the BAC level you can be at while operating a vehicle – if you’re under 21, that limit is zero. Even if you feel “fine,” you just might be over the legal limit.

The chart below defines a rough estimate of BAC (blood alcohol content) level calculated by the number of drinks consumed and the weight of the individual. You may notice that at the 4th drink, all individuals within the weight range on this chart are over the legal limit to operate a vehicle.

To put this in perspective: one pitcher of beer is equivalent to about 4 cans. Thus, from a single dunk, not counting any other drinks you may have had before or after dunking, you are already at the legal limit.

BAC (blood alcohol content) level chart

Understanding the Chart

  • One drink = 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor, 12 ounces of 5% beer, or five ounces of 12% wine.
  • Red = .08% BAC or greater, a per se DUI in Texas
  • Subtract 0.015% for every hour after you are done drinking.

Continue reading below for a brief explanation of the common charges one could potentially receive on a rung dunk night.

DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DWI)

The punishment for receiving a DWI charge is determined by a lot of factors. The amount by which you were intoxicated, whether you’ve had any previous convictions, and whether you had child passengers can all vastly affect the outcome of your case. The table below provides an overview of the potential punishment you may receive for a DWI charge.

DWI Charges and Punishments Table

DWI Charges and Punishments Table

DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED (DUI) UNDER THE AGE OF 21

It is illegal for a person under 21 to operate a motor vehicle or watercraft in a public place while having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Even if you are under the legal limit, which is .08 for those over 21 years old, the legal limit for an individual under 21 is ZERO.

The consequences for a minor’s first offense of driving under the influence of alcohol are:

  • A class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.
  • Attendance of an alcohol awareness class.
  • 20 to 40 hours of mandatory community service.
  • 60-day driver's license suspension and no eligibility for an occupational license for the first 30 days.

A second offense increases the consequences to:

  • A class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $500.
  • Attendance of an alcohol awareness class at the judge's discretion.
  • 40 to 60 hours of mandatory community service.
  • 120-day driver's license suspension and no eligibility for an occupational license for the first 90 days.

A third offense is not eligible for deferred adjudication. The minor's driver's license is suspended for 180 days, and they may not obtain an occupational license for the entire suspension period. If the minor is 17 or older, the fine increases to $500 to $2,000, confinement in jail for up to 180 days or both.

PUBLIC INTOXICATION

TEXAS PENAL CODE §49.02 – PUBLIC INTOXICATION

(a) A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under Section 49.04.

(e) An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies.

Explanation of Texas Public Intoxication Law

“Intoxication” is defined in Texas as not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.

“Public Place” is defined as any place where members of the public have access is a public place under Texas law. This definition includes, but is not limited to, public streets, highways, parking lots, bars, and even gated apartment complexes. A person could even be charged with Public Intoxication while riding as a passenger in a car.

“Danger to Self or Others”

The police use several criteria to determine if an individual is at risk of harming himself or herself or another person. These include being intoxicated to the point of being vulnerable to robbery and or assault; being intoxicated to the degree that attempting to drive home might not end well; falling over drunk as this puts an individual at risk of falling into the road and being run over by a car while walking home; starting a fight; or being out of control.

MINOR IN POSSESSION

A charge of Minor in Possession (MIP) means that the defendant, being a person under the age of 21 years, has been issued a citation by a police officer or Texas Alcohol Beverage Control Officer for being illegally in possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage. The principal element of this crime, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, is possession, ownership, or control of an alcoholic beverage.

Minors are at risk of an MIP citation at a party, nightclub, or while riding in a vehicle when alcohol is present. A minor can be in the proximity of alcohol which belongs to another person, but cannot touch, hold, transport, attempt to purchase, consume, or have any contact with alcohol.

Possession of an alcoholic beverage includes situations involving "constructive possession." An example of constructive possession is when a minor is in an automobile where alcohol is readily accessible to any minor passenger in that vehicle. This situation extends to alcohol which is on the car seat, floor, or stored in the trunk of an automobile in which the driver is a minor in possession of the keys which unlock the trunk.

Constructive possession may also exist when:

  • a minor sits at a table with several people who are drinking from a pitcher of beer with cups scattered about;
  • a minor gathers empty beer cans and cups to discard as trash;
  • a minor holds a friend’s beer as the friend puts on their jacket; or
  • a minor uses a beer can as a spittoon for tobacco juice.

Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, Section 106.05 provides that a minor (a person under the age of 21 years) commits this offense if he possesses an alcoholic beverage.

A minor may possess alcohol if he is in the visible presence of his adult (over the age of 21 years) parent, guardian, spouse, or other adult to whom he has been committed by a court.

A minor may possess alcohol while in the course and scope of his employment if he is an employee of a license or permittee and the employment is not prohibited by this code.

This offense is a Class "C" misdemeanor punished by a fine not to exceed $500.00. However, if a minor has 2 prior convictions, the punishment is a fine of not less than $250.00 or more than $2,000.00 and/or confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 6 months!

The court shall order a convicted minor to perform community service for not less than 8 or more than 12 hours. However, if he has a prior conviction, the community service is not less than 20 hours or more than 40 hours.

The court shall order the Department of Public Safety to suspend the minor’s driver’s license or permit or, if he does not have one, to deny the issuance of one for: 30 days if he has no prior convictions; 60 days if he has one prior conviction; or 6 months if he has 2 prior convictions.

For the purpose of determining whether a minor has a prior conviction, an order of deferred adjudication for a prior offense is considered a conviction!

The court shall require a convicted minor who has not been previously convicted to attend an alcohol awareness course approved by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse. If he has been previously convicted, the court may require him to attend the course.

FURNISHING ALCOHOL TO A MINOR

Adults and minors who give alcohol to a minor also face stiff penalties. This includes the following:

  • Making alcoholic beverages available to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail for up to a year or both.
  • In addition, the individual’s driver’s license would also be automatically suspended for 180 days once convicted.

Anybody 21 or older (other than the parent or guardian) can be held liable for damages caused by intoxication of a minor under 18 if the adult knowingly provided alcoholic beverages to the minor or knowingly allowed them to be served or provided alcoholic beverages on the premises owned or leased by the adult.

Sale to a minor is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine up to $4,000, confinement in jail for up to a year, or both.

FREE CONSULTATION

Stay safe this weekend and remember: DON'T DUNK AND DRIVE.

If you get arrested for DWI, DUI, Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Public Intoxication, Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor, Disorderly Conduct, Possession of a False ID, or any related charges this ring weekend, give us a call! Our phones are open 24/7 to take your message and get you the representation you deserve.

Call us today for a free consultation: 979-779-2000.

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