DWI With a Child Passenger:
You don’t have to go on an all-night rager to get a DWI with a child passenger in the car. Many of us can remember times in our childhood when we went to a barbeque or awedding with our parents, saw them have a beer or two, and felt fine riding home with them. Under Texas law, this behavior was and is legal.
Still, being stopped after you’ve been drinking, even if you have a legal amount of alcohol in your system, is much more serious than it once was. And if the officer who stopped you notices a child in the backseat, then you’re much more likely to be arrested for DWI with a child passenger (a state jail felony).
Learn more about why you need the best DWI trial defense team when you or someone close to you has been charged with DWI with a child passenger.
Laws regarding DWI with a child passenger
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, the elements of DWI with a child passenger require the prosecution to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you:
- Were intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle
- Were intoxicated in a public place
- Your vehicle was occupied by a passenger younger than 15 years-of-age.
To meet the “intoxicated,” criteria, the state must prove that you:
- Didn’t have the normal use of mental faculties due to alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body;
- Didn’t have the normal use of their physical faculties for the same reasons; or
- You had an alcohol concentration of .08 or more.
What happens if you’re charged with DWI with a child passenger?
Even while pending, a DWI with a child passenger accusation alone can seem like a punishment. It comes with severe bond conditions, which are mandatory by law. For example, you must have an interlock installed, and CPS will likely breathe down your neck for an interview. In fact, CPS may try to prove that you committed what’s called an act of child endangerment. Child endangerment occurs when a child younger than 15 face injury, physical impairment, or death.
Considering what’s at stake, it’s best not to handle these issues alone. Do not talk to law enforcement or CPS without an experienced lawyer at your side.
What are the legal penalties for a DWI with a child passenger?
A conviction for DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony, carrying these possible consequences:
- Jail time: A state jail felony carries the possibility of between 180 days and 2 years in a state jail facility (which is essentially a step down from the penitentiary).
- Probation: If you have never been convicted of a felony in Texas or anywhere else in the United States, you are eligible for between 180 days and five years probation. Deferred Adjudication is not available for DWI with a child passenger. Typical probation terms include:
- No drinking or drug use
- Not breaking any laws or committing any new offenses
- Having an interlock installed on the vehicles you own/operate.
- Maintaining employment
- Probation & jail time: A judge may order a short jail sentence as a condition of probation. In some instances, it’s mandatory.
- Fines & court costs: Up to a $10,000 fine, and other costs assessed by the Judge, in addition to surcharges automatically assessed by the State as discussed below.
- Surcharges: If convicted of a DWI with a child passenger, you could also face surcharges of up to $2,000 per year for three years after your conviction. This is on top of all other fines and court costs.
- Consequences of being a convicted felon: Finally, there are consequences associated with all felony convictions. A convicted felon loses their:
- Right to own and possess a firearm
- Right to vote
- Right to serve on a jury
- Job opportunities and limited housing availability.
How can a DWI attorney defend me?
The attorneys at Westfall Sellers explore every possible defense, including (but not limited to) showing reasonable doubt about whether:
- You were legally intoxicated
- You were intoxicated while operating a vehicle
- Evidence was obtained from an unlawful arrest or illegal search and seizure
- Evidence was obtained by an invalid warrant
- Your blood or breath test was reliable, accurate, precise, traceable, and valid
Protect your family. Call Westfall Sellers Attorneys today.
Westfall Sellers has a proven history of both winning dismissals for DWI with a child passenger cases and persuading prosecutors to reduce felony charges for DWIs with a child passenger cases to misdemeanors. These successes are often the result of spending time with our clients, getting to know them, and putting together a compelling mitigating case.
If you’ve been arrested for a DWI with child passenger, the Texas DWI attorneys at Westfall Sellers can help you navigate through this complex, confusing process. Our DWI attorneys have handled thousands of DWI cases, including those involving a child in the car.