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Kelsey M Jackson
Oct 20, 2015

Rethink Your Drink - Alcohol Awareness Tuesday Blog Post - NCAAW 2015

Oct 20, 2015 by Kelsey M Jackson

During National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week, October 19-24th, Student Involvement will be sharing daily alcohol awareness blog posts with alcohol facts, statistics, resources, and alcohol education tips. If you have any questions or would like more information for your student organization contact us at StudentOrgs@ttu.edu.

The Cost of Consumption

Yesterday, we looked at who and what is affected by alcohol consumption and college drinking. But what are the potential costs of providing and consuming alcohol? 

Alcohol-Related Violations Committed by Those Over 21

Selling alcohol to minors is a Class A Misdemeanor 

  • A person commits an offense if, with criminal negligence, they sell an alcoholic beverage to a minor
  • It is ILLEGAL for ANYONE to sell alcohol to a minor
  • Up to $4,000 fine, and/or
  • Up to 1 year in jail 

Purchasing of Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor is also a Class A Misdemeanor

  • A person commits this offense if they purchases, gives, or with criminal negligence makes available an alcoholic beverage to a minor
  • It is ILLEGAL for ANYONE, except the minor's parents, legal guardian, or spouse, to give or make easily available an alcoholic beverage to a minor.   
  • Up to $4,000 fine, and/or
  • Up to 1 year in jail 

This law applies to anyone that provides alcohol to a person younger than 21 even if the provider of the alcohol is also under the age of 21. 

In Texas, a person may provide alcohol to a minor if they are the minor's adult parent, legal guardian, or spouse and is visibly present when the minor possesses or consumes the alcoholic beverage.

However, it is against the law to make alcohol available to any other person younger than 21 even in your own residence, even with their parent's permission. You can be held civilly liable for damages caused by a person younger than 18 if you provide them alcohol or allowed them to be given alcohol while on your property. 

Every time your organization hosts a party or has an event where alcohol is served and minors are consuming, the host of the party can be charged with providing alcohol to minors. Also, a source investigation can be conducted to determine who purchased the alcohol and, once determined, that person can be changed as well. Your organization could be responsible for paying the $4,000 fine. 

Alcohol-Related Violations Committed by Those Under 21

Purchasing, or attempting to purchase alcohol is a Class C Misdemeanor 

  • A minor commits this offense if they purchase or attempt to purchase an alcoholic beverage

Misrepresentation of age to obtain alcohol is also a Class C misdemeanor. 

  • A minor commits an offense if they falsely states or presents any document that indicates they are 21 or older
  • It is illegal for a minor to use a fake ID or tell a waiter/server that they are 21 in order for them to get alcohol 

Possessing or consuming alcohol (aka M.I.P = Minor in possession) is also a Class C misdemeanor. 

  • A minor commits an offense if they posses or consume an alcoholic beverage

Just to clarify...

Being charged with possession seems self-explanatory; if you are holding an alcoholic beverage, then you get charged. However, there is more to the story than that. You can get charged with an MIP for constructive possession as well. Constructive possession exists where a person has knowledge of an object plus the ability to control the object, even if the person has no physical contact with it. An example of this is if you are at a party that has a keg or cooler full of alcohol, but no one is regulating who can get alcohol. You know that the alcohol is there and you have the free ability to obtain the alcohol. You can be given an MIP in this situation.

Consequences of an MIP

  • Fine up to $500
  • Alcohol Awareness Course
  • Community Service
  • Driver's license suspension or denial
  • If you are 17 or older, on the third offense, the fine increases to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail, in addition to your driver's license getting suspended. 

Other Alcohol Violations

Driving While Intoxicated 

a person commits this offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. intoxication must be proven for conviction. Minors may be arrested for DWI and are subject to the same penalties as an adult. 

  1st Offense 2nd Offense 3rd Offense
Minimum Jail 3-180 days 30 days-1 year 2 years
Fines & Penalties Up to $2,000 (unless a child under 15 is in car) Up to $4,000 (unless a child under 15 is in car) Up to $10,000
License Suspension 90-365 days 180 days-2 years 180 days - 2 years
Interlock Ignition Device Required No Yes Yes

The State of Texas prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by drivers with a .08 percent or above blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The .08 limit is used across the United States as the benchmark for the "impaired" driver. Texas has lower limits in place for commercial drivers (.04) and for drivers under the age of 21 (.02). The Texas DWI law also makes it illegal to drive while under the influence of controlled substances such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicants.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Texas? This question is often asked by drivers who want to know how many drinks they can have before they reach the .08 BAC limit. A BAC score is determined by a number of different variables such as weight, sex, elapsed time interval between drinks and many other factors. Although there are charts and calculators to help you determine your BAC, these tools do not take into account all variables that contribute to a BAC score.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of Texas has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in Texas, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

Driving with an Open Container

It is an offense if there is any open container or vessel that contains alcohol that is in the area within reach of any passenger or the driver of the vehicle. 

As an organization, you can make it a priority to place someone at the entrance of the party to make sure no one leaves the party with an open container

Punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and a minimum of 6 days in prison

Intoxication Assault

if you are driving while being intoxicated and you injure someone, you are charged with a third degree felony and are subject to up to a $10,000 fine (for each count) and 2-10 years in prison. 

Intoxication Manslaughter 

If you are driving while intoxicated and you kill someone, you are charged with a second degree felony and are subject to up to a $10,000 fine (for each count) and 2-20 years in prison. 

*A defendant can be charged with murder, if while committing a felony, they perform an act "clearly dangerous to human life that cause the death of an individual." A third DWI conviction is a felony offense. This means that if a person's act of driving while intoxicated results in a person's death, and the driver has two previous DWI convictions, the driver can be charged with murder. 

More information on college drinking - College Drinking Fact Sheet

Campus Resources & Where to Get Help

Student Involvement or Fraternity & Sorority Life

 

Texas Tech Risk Intervention & Safety Education Office

TTU Police

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References:

  • "Be Safe Tonight, Not Sorry Tomorrow - Follow Texas Drinking Laws" TX Department of Transportation & Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission
  • http://dui.drivinglaws.org/texas.php