In Texas, driving while intoxicated with a child in the car is a felony — even if it is your first offense. Not only that, a conviction for this offense can negatively impact your life in a number of other ways, including financially, professionally, emotionally and socially.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 49.045, a person commits an offense if:
(1) The person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place; and
(2) The vehicle being operated by the person is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
Punishment for DWI Child Passenger in Texas
An offense under this section is a state jail felony, which is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine. The punishment can be enhanced further if the driver has prior felony or DWI conviction, if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is greater than .15, or if anyone is injured or if property is damaged in an accident.
CPS Involvement after DWI Child Passenger
Not only are there harsh sentences for violating this law, but there are other serious legal repercussions. Typically, if a parent is arrested for driving while intoxicated with their own child, prosecutors will notify Child Protective Services (CPS). When this happens, CPS initiates an investigation into the fitness of the parent. CPS may even petition a Texas court to remove the child from the parent’s custody.
Other legal ramifications of a conviction for DWI with Child Passenger include losing the right to vote, to own a gun, and to gain public benefits. The financial costs, including a higher rate of car insurance, can be very detrimental as well. A conviction can also hamper a person’s career and reputation in the community. For all of these reasons, driving after consuming alcohol should always be avoided, especially if there will be children in the vehicle.
License Suspension for DWI Child Passenger
If you refused to provide a specimen of your breath or blood upon request during the arrest, your driver license will be suspended for 180 days. If you provide a specimen and it shows your BAC was a .08 or greater, your driver license will be suspended for 90 days. You only have 15 days to request a hearing on your license suspension, so be sure to contact an attorney immediately if you are arrested for DWI with a child passenger.
Bond Conditions for DWI Child Passenger
If you are arrested for DWI with a child passenger, the judge will almost certainly require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle once you are released from jail. Although you have not been convicted of an offense, and are presumed to be innocent, the judge is allowed to impose any reasonable condition of bond to ensure the safety of the community. An ignition interlock device should be expected.
Outcomes for DWI Child Passenger
The best outcomes are obviously a dismissal, a no-bill, or being found not guilty by a judge or jury. Short of that, obtaining a probated sentence instead of time in state jail is desirable. It’s important to point out that deferred adjudication is not a possibility for DWIs in Texas at this time. If a jail sentence is imposed, the minimum sentence is six months in state jail facility which must be served day-for-day.
Learn more about the DWI investigation and prosecution process.
If you or a loved one has been arrested on a charge of DWI Child Passenger, call us at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:
- Discuss the facts of your case;
- Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
- Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.
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Also published on Medium.