A DWI in Texas can lead to incarceration, fines, and other negative consequences. But, if you are charged and convicted of DWI with a minor in the car, you face even greater penalties and repercussions.
Depending on the circumstances, a DWI with a child passenger in Texas can also result in child endangerment charges. This can seriously impact your rights as a parent. If you have been charged with a DWI, contact an experienced Houston DWI lawyer from The Law Offices of Ned Barnett as soon as possible.
Understanding DWI with a Child Passenger
Children who are riding as passengers do not have control over how the vehicle is driven or handled. If you are operating a vehicle with one or more children as passengers, you are responsible for their safety.
DWI with a Minor in the Car
Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.045, a person commits a DWI with a child passenger if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, and that vehicle is occupied by a passenger younger than 15.
The law defines intoxication as having a BAC of .08% or more, or not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol or other altering substance.
It is important to note that you can be charged with the crime of DWI with a minor in the car even if you did not injure anyone during your operation of the vehicle, including the child in the car.
DWI With a Child Passenger & Child Endangerment
Driving while intoxicated with a minor in your car may also be considered a form of child endangerment, regardless of whether the child was actually injured.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 22.041(c), child endangerment is considered an offense if an individual intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, or by act or omission, engages in behavior that puts a minor younger than 15 in danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.
Probelms with Child Custody
If the Texas Department of Family Services (TDFS) gets involved, your child could be removed from your custody. A TDFS investigation is separate from the criminal process, and you should consult with an attorney with familiarity in handling these types of investigations.
Penalties for DWI with a Child Passenger in Texas
Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is a state jail felony. The penalties are:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Between 180 days and two years in state jail
- DWI education classes
- Up to 1,000 hours of community service
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- A driver’s license suspension of up to 180 days
- An annual three-year surcharge fee between $1,000 and $2,000 to retain your driver’s license
Collateral consequences include, but are not limited to:
- Losing voting privileges
- Barred from certain government assistance
- Losing the right to possess or own a firearm
- Losing child visitation and custody rights
- Dificulty getting employment in certain professions
Probation may be an option if you’re found guilty of DWI with a child passenger in Texas. Probation can reduce the amount of jail time that is required.
If probation is your goal, your best chance at receiving this outcome is with the help of an experienced Houston DWI lawyer who can demonstrate to the court why you deserve leniency.
Administrative License Revocation
The administrative license revocation (ALR) hearing is separate from the criminal proceedings and is where the state of Texas attempts to suspend your license if you failed or refused to take a blood or breath test. Regardless of whether it is your first or subsequent DWI, you have 15 days from the date you receive notice of suspension to request a hearing.
If you fail to request a hearing within the required timeline, you waive your right to contest the suspension, and your license will be automatically suspended.
An Experienced DWI Attorney Can Help
If you have been charged in Houston with DWI with a child passenger, it is important to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Ned Barnett has a reputation for aggressively defending clients, and is board-certified as a criminal defense attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
With certifications in DWI field sobriety testing, the operation of breath test machines, and gas chromatography, he has the knowledge necessary to challenge DWI evidence.
Attorney Barnett will review the facts and use his extensive experience to either negotiate the best deal possible or build a defense that counters the prosecution’s case. This could result in a reduction or a total dismissal.