In Texas, you commit a DWI when you operate a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher or when your normal faculties are impaired because you consumed alcohol and/or drugs. This is a serious charge, and the conviction penalties are steep. If a judge or jury finds you guilty, the court can sentence you to incarceration and fine you. The Texas Department of Public Safety may also suspend your driver's license for a certain amount of time.
The penalties you can face for driving while intoxicated can increase if aggravating factors are present, such as having a child in the car with you at the time of the offense.
DWI and a Minor Passenger
Texas's law on DWI with child passenger applies to offenses that occurred when a person under 15 years of age was present in the vehicle.
Driving while intoxicated with a minor in your vehicle is considered a more severe offense than a regular DWI. That's because such conduct endangers the child's safety.
Generally, DWI is charged as a Class B misdemeanor. However, it increases to a state jail felony when a child was present in the vehicle.
The difference in conviction penalties is as follows:
- Regular DWI: Up to 180 days in jail
- DWI with child passenger: Up to 2 years in state jail
- Regular DWI: Up to $2,000
- DWI with child passenger: Up to $10,000
As you can see, the punishments for drunk driving with a minor in your vehicle are substantial in comparison to a regular DWI. The maximum term of incarceration is 4 times greater, and the maximum fine is 5 times greater.
Other Charges You Can Face
If you drive while drunk or high with a child passenger in your car, a DWI charge isn't the only one you could face. The State may also accuse you of child endangerment.
The offense occurs when a person engages in conduct that places a child under 15 in imminent danger of:
- Bodily injury, or
- Physical or mental impairment
Driving while intoxicated can lead to injury-causing or fatal accidents. In fact, in Texas, 9,387 collisions resulted in harm, and 788 crashes resulted in death in 2019. If a child passenger was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the driver was violating the child endangerment law, regardless of whether or not they acted intentionally or knowingly.
Like a DWI with child passenger, endangering a child is also a state jail felony.
If you've been accused of a DWI offense in Dallas, schedule a free consultation with Deandra Grant Law by contacting us at (214) 225-7117. We'll thoroughly review your circumstances to build a solid defense on your behalf.