DWI with Child Passenger Laws in Houston TX

Houston Lawyer for DWI with Child Passenger

The Texas legislature has been passing more strict laws related to drunk driving.  In fact, in 2003, the Texas legislature enhanced the punishment and severity for DWI with a child passenger younger than 15 in the vehicle. DWI with a child passenger is now a state jail felony offense instead of a misdemeanor as it was previously classed. According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 12 § 49.045, an arrest for drunk driving with kids in the car means an automatic 180 day license suspension, up to $10k in fines, 2 years in jail, and possibly additional child endangerment charges.

Forced Blood Draw Allowed in Texas

There are only very specific circumstances in which a person can be forced to submit a blood alcohol content test in Texas. When someone is accused of driving while intoxicated with a child in the car, law enforcement can force the driver to submit to a blood or breath test without their consent. This means the test can be used as evidence in court in most cases, unless the defense attorney can find a way to exclude it from evidence. Reasons to exclude a specimen include claiming it was illegally obtained, improperly stored, contaminated, the testing equipment was not properly maintained, or the test was not administered by a qualified professional.

As most people know, without evidence it is hard to prosecute a case.

What is the Punishment for DWI with a Child Passenger in Texas?

The minimum punishment range for a first time DWI with child passenger conviction is 180 days to 2 years in the state jail and up to a $10,000 fine. DWI with a child is a state jail felony in Texas and someone charged will have an automatic driver’s license suspension for 180 days instead of 90 like misdemeanor charges.

What Factors Can Increase Penalties & Punishment for Driving Under the Influence with a Child?

Jail time, fines, and crime class can be increased or attract additional charges in Texas if:

  • Driver has Prior Felony Convictions
  • Driver has Previous DWI Convictions
  • A Child Passenger is Injured in a Crash
  • Alleged Drunk Driver Causes Serious Bodily Injury to Passenger of Driver’s Vehicle or Another Vehicle
  • A Passenger or Pedestrian is Killed Because of Driver’s Impairment

If the child passenger is injured in a crash or other traffic accident as a result of the intoxicated driver’s impairment, the driver could face additional intoxication assault with serious bodily injury (SBI) charges on top of the DWI with child passenger charges. If the driver crashed into another car, pedestrian, or cyclist and caused serious injuries; the driver could face multiple counts of intoxication assault w/ SBI.

If someone has previous felony convictions on their record at the time they are charged with a felony DWI with child in Texas, they may be subject to enhancements as a habitual criminal offender. Enhancements typically increase the class of crime one level (for example a class c felony might be enhanced to a class b felony).

CPS May Open a Case Against Parents Charged with DWI with Child or Children in the Car

Texas Family Code requires professionals to report any suspected child abuse or neglect to the Child Protective Services (CPS). As soon as someone is charged with a DWI and their kids are in the car, the prosecutor files a report with CPS. This can have long-term ramifications on your ability to retain custody of your children if you are already in a shared custody agreement, and can complicate child visitation as well.

In addition, if law enforcement officers cannot locate another family member to care for the kids when the driver is arrested and taken into custody, the children will have to go into CPS custody.

Other Rights Lost if a Convicted Felon

If you are convicted of a felony DWI with a child under 15 years of age, you will be a convicted felon and lose some of your most basic rights as a United States citizen including:

  • Right to Vote
  • Possess Firearm, Rifle, or Handgun
  • Serve on a Jury

A felony DWI with child conviction means you will no longer be able exercise your right to vote or serve on a jury to fulfill your civic responsibilities. You will also lose your right to possess a firearm, which can have a huge impact on your career and employment opportunities if you are a police officer or member of law enforcement, member of the military, or security guard.
The good news is that there are often ways to avoid a felony conviction when charged with DWI with Child Passenger.  Our DWI lawyers have successfully had these types of cases dismissed or reduced to misdemeanors.

Contact us To Schedule a Free Consultation

If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI with a Child Passenger, you need the best DWI lawyer possible.  Dane Johnson is a certified forensic chromatologist, earning distinction as a lawyer scientist for his knowledge and education of forensic specimen testing (the blood, urine, and breath tests used in alcohol and drug tests administered by law enforcement). All of the lawyers at Johnson, Johnson & Baer, P.C. have been voted as “Top Lawyers” by H-Texas Magazine.  Dane Johnson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and has been selected as  a “Super Lawyer” by Texas Monthly Magazine.  Give our attorneys a call at 713-222-0400 for a free case evaluation and consultation.

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