Driving or Operating Watercraft Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor: Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041

Texas Criminal Law

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Under the Texas DUI Law, minors are prohibited from operating motor vehicles and watercraft while having any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. The full name of the DUI law is Driving or Operating Watercraft Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 106.041. The law was most recently updated in 2023 when the legislature amended a provision in the law to specify that DUI is not a lesser included of the new Boating While Intoxicated with Child Passenger law.

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Texas law allows anyone to prosecuted for DWI, including minors, but only minors can be prosecuted for DUI. The Texas DUI law doesn’t require the state’s attorneys to prove “intoxication.” Instead, even a tiny amount of alcohol consumption can lead to a DUI prosecution for minors.

The Alcoholic Beverage Code classifies the Texas DUI law under Title 4 “Regulatory and Penal Provisions,” Chapter 106 “Provisions Relating to Age.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Driving or Operating Watercraft Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor below.

What is the current Texas law about Driving or Operating Watercraft Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Driving or Operating Watercraft Under the Influence of Alcohol by Minor in Alcoholic Beverage Code Section §106.041 as follows:[1]

(a) A minor commits an offense 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.

What is the difference between DUI and DWI?

DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, requires the state’s attorney’s to prove that you were intoxicated while you were operating a motor vehicle. The DWI law applies to anyone operating a motor vehicle in Texas, including both minors and adults.

On the other hand, the Texas DUI law does not require the state to prove that you were intoxicated. Additionally, the DUI law only applies to minors (people under 21 years old).

Can I get a DUI off my record?

If you have been convicted of more than one DUI, there is no way to get them off your record in Texas.[2] However, if you have only received one DUI while you were under 21, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code provides that you are entitled to an expunction in Section 106.12.

If you are acquitted of a DWI charge, or if it is dismissed, you may be able to keep it off your record through an expunction or an order of nondisclosure. However, the new Texas nondisclosure law specifically prohibits people who have been convicted of DUIs from obtaining an Order of Nondisclosure that people who have been convicted of many other misdemeanors might be able to use.[3] So if you have been convicted of a DUI, the only way to get it removed from your record is through the Section 106.12 expunction procedure.

Can I get deferred adjudication for a DUI?

You are eligible under state law to get a DUI deferred unless you have been previously convicted twice or more of DUI.[4]

If you are granted a deferred disposition, there are several requirements that the court must impose, including a drug and/or alcohol awareness program.[5]

How can I be charged with a DUI offense in Texas?

You can be charged with DUI if you are under 21 years old and the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 106.041(a), as described in the section above, have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for DUI in Texas?

As a misdemeanor, DUI charges have a two-year limitations period.[6]

What is the penalty for a Texas DUI offense?

The Texas DUI offense is punished as a Class C misdemeanor,[7] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500, unless the minor has two prior DUI convictions and is not a child.[8] In that case, the offense is punished as a Class B misdemeanor.[9] Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

In addition to the punishment for a Class C misdemeanor, a court may order you to perform community service related to “education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.”[10] You will also be required to take a drug and/or alcohol awareness program.[11]

Can you get probation for DUI in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for DUI, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.[12]

However, any minor who commits a DUI and who has been previously convicted twice or more of DUI is not eligible for deferred disposition or deferred adjudication.[13]

What level of crime is DUI in Texas?

The Alcoholic Beverage Code classifies DUI as a Class C misdemeanor, although it can be enhanced to a puinishment including both a fine of up to $2,000 and confinement in jail for 180 days.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041. This law is current as of 2024.^2. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.12^3. Texas Government Code §411.073(a) & §411.0735(a)^4. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(f)^5. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.115(a)^6. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.02(a)^7. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(b)^8. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(j)(1), referencing 51.02, Family Code:

(2) “Child” means a person who is:

(A) ten years of age or older and under 17 years of age; or

(B) seventeen years of age or older and under 18 years of age who is alleged or found to have engaged in delinquent conduct or conduct indicating a need for supervision as a result of acts committed before becoming 17 years of age.

^9. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(c)^10. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(d)-(e)

(d) In addition to any fine and any order issued under Section 106.115, the court shall order a minor convicted of an offense under this section to perform community service for:

(1) not less than 20 or more than 40 hours, if the minor has not been previously convicted of an offense under this section; or

(2) not less than 40 or more than 60 hours, if the minor has been previously convicted of an offense under this section.

(e) Community service ordered under this section must be related to education about or prevention of misuse of alcohol.

^11. a href=”http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/AL/htm/AL.106.htm#106.115″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.115(a)^12 See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^13. Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §106.041(f)


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