A minor in Texas may not buy, possess, or consume alcohol; or knowingly provide false information to obtain alcohol. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.02(a), 106.04(a), 106.05(a), &106.07(a).) It is also illegal for adults to purchase alcohol for, sell to, or otherwise provide alcohol to minors. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.06(a)&106.03(a).) There are few exceptions to these rules (see below).
Texas recognizes four exceptions to the general rule prohibiting minors from possessing or consuming alcohol.
A minor may possess—but not consume— alcohol during the minor’s scope of employment. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.05(b)(1).)
A minor may possess or consume alcohol in the visible presence of the minor’s parent, legal guardian, or adult spouse. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.05(b)(2)& 106.04(b).)
A minor may purchase or possess alcohol when then minor is directly supervised by a peace officer engaged in enforcing the minor in possession laws (such as during a sting operation). (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.05(b)(3) &106.02(a).)
A minor can avoid liability for violating the possession and consumption laws if the minor requested emergency medical assistance for someone with a possible alcohol overdose. To qualify for this protection, the minor must have:
A conviction for violating a Texas’ minor in possession law is a Class C misdemeanor, and is punished by a fine of up to $500. Instead of entering a conviction, a judge may place a minor on deferred disposition, wherein a minor will complete between eight and 12 hours of community service; and have that minor’s driver’s license suspended for 30 days (first convictions), 60 days (second convictions), or 180 days (third and subsequent convictions). The community service must be related to alcohol education or abuse prevention, or other programs that the judge believes will help to rehabilitate the minor. Completion of a deferred disposition program is counted as a prior conviction when a judge is ordering punishment for a subsequent conviction. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.04(d).)
A judge may also order special additional penalties for third and subsequent convictions. These include a fine between $250 and $2,000, up to 180 days in jail, or both. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.071.)
It is illegal in Texas for an adult to purchase alcohol for, sell to, or otherwise provide alcohol to minors. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Sections 106.06(a)&106.03(a).) However, an adult may avoid liability for such a violation if the adult can show that the adult reasonably relied on a minor’s false representation of that minor’s age. This includes relying on a government-issued form of identification, without having reason to believe that the ID was false, or that the minor was nonetheless underage. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Section 106.03(b).) Furthermore, an adult may buy alcohol for, give, or make alcohol available to the adult’s minor child, ward, or spouse—but not other minors— if the adult is visibly present when the minor consumes the alcohol. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Section 106.06(b).)
A conviction under these laws is a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $4,000, up to one year in jail, or both (as decided by the judge). (Texas Pen. Code Subchap. B, Section 12.21.) Additionally, the judge may order community supervision if the adult committed the offense during a social gathering that included alcohol abuse (such as binge drinking, or coercing others to drink alcohol). The community supervision will include between 20 and 40 hours of community service, and attendance at an approved alcohol awareness program. The community service must relate to alcohol education or abuse prevention, or another purpose that the judge believes will rehabilitate the offender. (Texas Stat. and Code Ann. Section 106.06(c) &(e).)
Because local procedures and attitude towards the Texas minor in possession laws vary by community, it is a good idea to consult with a lawyer who is familiar with how these cases are handled in your area. This will give you a better chance of achieving the most favorable outcome under the unique circumstances of your case.