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Differences Between Juvenile, Adult Court in DUI CaseThe top concern for a youth charged with driving under the influence of alcohol is to prevent that charge from ruining his or her life. A criminal record could limit his or her options when going to college or looking for a job. Spending time in jail is a jarring experience that may do more to traumatize a youth than rehabilitate him or her. In Texas, the age of a youth charged with DUI makes a significant difference. A juvenile court hears DUI cases for defendants age 16 and younger, while defendants age 17 to 20 are tried as adults.

Juvenile System

A DUI charge for someone age 16 or younger is a class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by:

  • A maximum $500 fine;
  • A minimum 60-day driver’s license suspension;
  • 20 to 40 hours of community service; and
  • Required completion of an alcohol awareness course.

The goal of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate the youths it convicts without hindering their ability to be healthy adults. Juvenile records are automatically sealed from most background checks and can be permanently sealed if the person does not receive any more criminal charges. A juvenile court is unlikely to sentence a defendant to jail time, even if the juvenile had enough alcohol in his or her system to qualify for a charge of driving while intoxicated.

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