At the initial time of publishing this post, we are focused on three particular laws around minors and alcohol. However, we’ll continue to update this page with additional laws as they get suggested or we find them reappearing in our research. For now, we’re going to draw attention to and explain the laws around selling alcohol to minors, the consumption of alcohol by a minor, and, most subtle of all, whether it is illegal to drive a boat under the influence of alcohol if you are a minor. As the preposterously hot and humid days of the Texas summer lurk just around the corner, we feel the final one may be more prevalent than one may realize.
Is it Illegal to Sell Alcohol to Minors?
On the reverse side, the sale of alcohol to minors is illegal according to Texas law as outlined in section 106.03. While it is a misdemeanor, it is a Class A misdemeanor meaning it is the most severe misdemeanor one can receive without being elevated to a felony (read more about felonies and misdemeanors). The penalty for such an offense is a fine of up to $4,000 and/or no less than 90 days in prison (and up to a year). However, the law provides some protection against store owners and operators who were attempting to follow the law.
As subsection b points out, the store attendant (as well as the store) is off the hook if the minor shows a valid form of identification, purporting to be the person of age in the picture. However, there is one small caveat. Both the person in the image and the physical information on the driver’s license (such as name, eye color, height..etc) need to be “consistent with the minor’s appearance.”
The Consumption of Alcohol By A Minor
For anyone that’s ever been under the age of 18 and lived in America, one has probably wondered whether it is ever legal for a minor to consume alcohol. It sounds so simple but the reality is actually quite a bit complicated and that’s evidenced by the length and complexity of the relevant statute, 106.04. The first concern that comes to mind is what if the parent or legal guardian at the time was present? After all, in other developed countries (including the United States), it is a major part of the culture to allow your child to have some wine with dinner. As stated by subsection (b), a minor is allowed to drink alcohol in the state of Texas if they are with their current legal guardian.
That may seem obvious but one that may not be and may perhaps be the most important piece of information on this page: a minor is not in trouble if they themselves called the police to report sexual assault (against themselves or someone else) and the minor stays on the scene and cooperates with officials throughout the process.
Driving A Boat Under The Influence By A Minor
In our explanation of DWI laws in Texas, we covered that not only is it illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence in Texas, but it’s also illegal to operate a boat (as it is, but hopefully less common, to operate a plane). However, the Texas state legislature specifically identifies operating a boat under the influence of alcohol if you are a minor. The good news is that the cop is not required to detain you and may only issue a citation for the offense. The bad news is that the offense is one of the rare penalties where the sentence is worse if you’re a minor.
The penalty for doing so is a Class C Misdemeanor which means, in English, you’re looking at a fine of somewhere between $500 and $2,000 dollars. You may be confined in jail for a period of up to 180 days (very unlikely) or some combination of the two. Additionally, unique to this particular Class C Misdemeanor is the fact that a minor convicted of this offense will be required to do no less than 20 hours (and no more than 40) of community service. The community service mandated by this offense requires that it be something involving alcohol education.
Convicted for the same account multiple times? If you’ve been convicted before of operating a boat while under the influence of alcohol, you’re now required to spend between 40 and 60 hours doing community service.