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Senate Interim Committee on Juvenile Driving While Intoxicated Laws

Charges

Study and make recommendations regarding the establishment of a lower Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) blood alcohol threshold for juveniles than for adults.

Study and make recommendations regarding the penalties applicable to juveniles for DWI offenses in light of the penalties for adult DWI.

Study and make recommendations as to whether changes in the penalties and procedures for dealing with related intoxication offenses, such as public intoxication, could reduce the incidence of juvenile DWI.

Study and make recommendations as to whether changes are needed in the laws prohibiting sales of alcoholic beverages to minor or in enforcement of such laws.

Identify prevention and intervention measures that hold promise for reducing the incidence of juvenile DWI and that merit expansion.

Monitor any federal legislation regarding juvenile DWI issues to determine whether changes are needed in Texas statutes to participate fully in federal programming.

Study and make recommendations regarding such other issues that come before the committee in relation to the above charges that the committee deems appropriate for consideration.
Recommendations

  • Adopt a "Zero Tolerance" law that would lower the allowable Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level for drivers under the age of 21 from the current level of .07 to .00.

  • Apply criminal and civil sanctions to underage drivers convicted of zero tolerance law violations, including mandatory community service, fines, and attendance in an alcohol awareness program.

  • Lengthen driver's license suspension periods for minors who have consumed any measurable or detectable amount of alcohol.

  • Charge juveniles (under age 17) with delinquent conduct on the first DWI offense (BAC level at or above .10) and make adjudicated juveniles ineligible for deferred prosecution.

  • Increase sanctions for minors (under age 21) who violate non-driving alcohol-related offenses, such as Minor in Possession, Purchase of Alcohol by a Minor, Misrepresentation of Age by a Minor, and Consumption of Alcohol by a Minor. Sanctions would include driver's license suspension, community service, fine, and attendance in an alcohol awareness program.

  • Adopt a three-tiered, graduated driver licensing system that would provide a more gradual introduction of newly licensed 16- and 17-year-old drivers into the system.

  • Require novice drivers to remain free of drug- and alcohol-related convictions until the age of 18 or face driving restrictions.

  • Apply a midnight to 5 a.m. driving curfew at the intermediate level unless accompanied by a licensed driver over age 21.

  • Allow restricted drivers to apply for an Occupational License.

  • Enhance the Texas Education Agency's basic driver's education curriculum taught in public schools, driver training schools, and courses approved by DPS, to include an additional alcohol awareness education component.

  • Expand the DPS driver's license test and update the driver's license handbook to include additional information pertaining to alcohol-related driving violations.

  • Provide additional enforcement agents to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) in order to increase enforcement of underage alcohol-related laws by raising TABC enforcement levels from a current level of 210 agents to 250 agents statewide.

  • Increase criminal penalties for adults who make alcohol available to minors by raising the offense from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor.

  • Give TABC the option of assessing a mandatory suspension of an alcoholic beverage license or permit, or assessing a civil penalty for all TABC health, safety, and welfare violations when settling administrative cases, and require TABC to set guidelines for administering this new rule.