Courts are tough on DWI with a minor in the car in Texas, as they should be. There’s nothing acceptable about driving drunk with a child in the car, but DWI cases are rarely cut and dry. Standards for determining DWI are flawed — with or without children involved — and perfectly good parents can find themselves in trouble for something they didn’t actually do.
Whether the charges are fair or not, it’s important to know the facts behind a Texas DWI with a child passenger charge, and the penalties that it can carry. If you have been charged with a DWI, especially if there was a minor in the car, you need a Houston DWI specialist to begin building your case and defending your freedom now. DWI with a child passenger can carry serious consequences for your family on top of the already steep punishments for felony DWI.
What is a “child passenger” in Texas?
Every state has different laws when it comes to who is considered a minor during a DWI. Louisiana, for instance, only considers passengers minors if they are 12 years of age or younger. In Texas, things are a bit more strict. You can be charged for drunk driving with a child in the car for any passenger 15 years old or younger.
What is the penalty for DWI with a child passenger in Texas?
Is a DWI a felony in Texas? Not always. First offense DWI, without aggravating factors such as a child in the car, are typically Class B misdemeanors. Is a DWI with a child in the car a felony in Texas? Drunk driving with a child in the car carries its own charge, which is automatically a state jail felony. The DWI penalties you could face for DWI with a child passenger include:
- A state jail felony sentence of 180 days to 2 years
- Up to 180 day suspension of your driver’s license, automatically
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- Yearly $1,000 to $2,000 surcharge fees to retain your driver’s license
These penalties worsen with repeat offenses; convictions for 2nd DWI in Texas will always have steeper consequences than those for first-timers, but some of the most severe penalties for DWI with a child passenger are related to child endangerment.
What is child endangerment in Texas?
The penalties for a DWI with a minor in the car are already steep, but if Child Protective Services (CPS) decides that you were endangering your child, they can remove your child from your custody.
The Texas Penal Code considers child endangerment a situation in which a child under 15 years of age faces injury, physical impairment, or death. Furthermore, the Texas Family code requires professionals to report suspected child neglect. It’s likely that as a prosecutor prepares a criminal case against you, and the state of Texas prepares a case to suspend your license, CPS may receive a report of abuse or neglect from the prosecutor.
A CPS case would be distinct from the DWI charge, and you would have to hire another lawyer who specializes in family law.
Can a DWI be dismissed in Texas?
A DWI charge can be dismissed in Texas under a few circumstances. Arresting officers follow a strict protocol in order to establish evidence in a way that will hold up under scrutiny — if they make a mistake (and you have a good lawyer) you may have a chance at dismissal.
Some common mistakes that can constitute dismissal include:
- The officer didn’t have reasonable suspicion to stop you
- The video evidence paints a picture that doesn’t match the narrative being presented in court
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test was in some way mishandled
- The officers in some way violated your rights during the arrest
Wondering how to get a DWI dismissed in Texas? The straight answer is that you need to hire a good lawyer.
Most grounds for dismissal are complicated and only exercisable with an attorney who is as smart as they are aggressive. It also helps if they know the science. Mark Thiessen, founding attorney of Thiessen Law Firm, is an American Chemical Society-Chemistry and the Law (ACS-CHAL) Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, which uniquely qualifies him to examine the dubious science involved in DWI convictions and produce results. If you’re looking to hire the best DWI lawyer in Houston, hire one that is also a lawyer scientist.
Arrested for DWI with a minor in the car in Texas? Call Thiessen Law Firm to defend your freedom
A DWI with a minor in the car in Texas is no joke and is a charge that can be hard to stomach as a parent. At Thiessen Law Firm we understand that good people can incur unjust charges. If you want to walk away with your family and your reputation intact, you need an aggressive and experienced attorney who isn’t afraid to go to trial. You need Mark Thiessen.
If you or a loved one is facing charges for DWI with a child passenger in Texas, call Thiessen Law Firm at 713-864-9000 or contact us online for a free consultation.
More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:
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- What Happens if You Get Caught with a Fake ID in Texas?
- Can You Get a DWI Expungement Texas?
- How to Beat a DWI Charge