How Do Drunk Driving Charges Differ When a Child is in the Car?
According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 12, § 49.045, a person who operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated on a public road with a child under the age of 15 in the same vehicle can be arrested for felony DWI with Child Passenger. Learn the penalties of this charge, and how our team of attorneys can help.
What are the Penalties for DWI With a Child Passenger in Texas?
Drunk driving charges are a separate offense from driving drunk with a child in the car. While a DWI is a Class B misdemeanor in Texas, driving drunk with a child passenger is considered a felony. This means that if you’re charged, you face a minimum jail sentence of 180 days and up to $10,000 in fines.
On top of these penalties, the judge that presides over your case has the right to add on the following actions as they see fit:
- Additional fines.
- Probation and/or DWI school.
- Community service time of up to 1,000 hours.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Completion of an alcohol/drug education course or rehabilitation program.
The possibility of these additional penalties depends on several factors, including:
- If you have a prior felony conviction.
- If you have a prior DWI conviction.
- If you caused an accident or serious bodily injury to the child, another passenger, another vehicle, or a pedestrian (intoxication assault.)
- If you caused an accident and a passenger or pedestrian was killed.
Drinking and driving with one or more children in your car creates conditions that could lead to a tragedy — sometimes deadly. Because of this, there are some collateral consequences that come with being convicted of a DWI with a child passenger.
Collateral consequences are the typical consequences of having a criminal record, such as issues with CPS if you have children or the loss of other individual constitutional rights. These consequences could also mean overcoming the stigma of your conviction — affecting your livelihood; your ability to get a job or to secure housing.