DWI with a Child Passenger: What to Know

If you have a charge for a DWI with a child passenger in the vehicle, you need to act fast. With a skilled DWI lawyer, you have an advocate to help you protect your future. Schedule a free consultation today. 

Oftentimes, when we think about driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges, we picture someone walking a line in front of an officer. However, the reality is that DWI arrests are often far more complex. 

During the arrest process, law enforcement officers examine a variety of factors. Ultimately, they want to determine what a prosecutor might charge the person with. In some cases, they charge someone for a DWI with a child passenger. This is far worse than your average DWI charge. 

How Does a Minor’s Presence Change the Charge?

When someone drives drunk in a vehicle with a passenger under the age of 15, it constitutes driving while intoxicated with a child passenger. The penalties for this are much more severe than the basic DWI charge. 

Let’s take a look at the potential penalties to see how this changes the penalties. 

First-Time DWI

For a first-time DWI, you receive a class B misdemeanor. Generally, it results in one or more the following penalties. 

  • Fines up to $2,000
  • A jail term of up to 180 days 
  • Both the fine and confinement 
  • DWI education and community service

As you can see, the charges are quite serious already. However, with a child in the vehicle, you face much worse. 

First-Time DWI with a Child Passenger

Even when it’s your first offense, a DWI with a minor passenger is a felony in the state of Texas. As such, it results in the following penalties. 

  • Time in a state jail for anywhere from 180 days to 2 years
  • Fines up to $10,000

It’s easy to see the difference. Moreover, the maximum sentence for a first-time DWI is the minimum sentence when you involve a child. Texas takes drunk driving charges seriously. The penalties are already severe before you involve anyone else. 

Now, some people look at this information and think that they’ve never been drunk behind the wheel with a child in the car. However, it’s important to understand that your definition of “intoxicated” probably doesn’t match the state’s definition. 

DWI Charges and “Intoxication”

Typically, DWI charges stem from two different causes. First, people face DWI charges when their BAC is above 0.08%. However, it’s also possible to face DWI charges when you do not “have the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to the introduction of alcohol to your system. 

Simply put, that means law enforcement officers have the power to arrest someone for a DWI even when their BAC falls under 0.08%. 

With this broad definition of intoxication, Texas has the power to charge someone for a DWI with a child passenger even when they “feel fine.” If you ever have a couple of drinks and get into a car with a passenger under 15, understand your situation. 

When the state convicts you of this crime, you face at least half a year of jail time – if not more. However, no one is guilty until the court reaches a decision. You need an advocate on your side to protect your rights and your future. 

Experienced Representation from a Houston DWI Defense Attorney

When you face charges for drunk driving for a DWI with a child passenger, you have the right to legal representation. However, it is crucial that you work with an experienced attorney with expertise in DWI cases. 

As a Houston criminal defense law firm, we offer legal representation backed by experience and expertise. To learn more about your legal options, schedule a free case evaluation with our team. Call now!