Driving under the influence is a crime that is taken seriously in the state of Texas. But when aggravating factors are involved, such as having a child passenger, judges are likely to be less sympathetic. When you are charged with DWI with a child passenger, there is a chance Child Protective Services could get involved. This has the potential to alter child custody and child visitation rights drastically.
The Gonzalez Law Group understands that you never intended to place your child in danger. That is why we want to help. Our firm has decades of experience and we know how to defend you. To schedule a time to speak with us, call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form. The Gonzalez Law Group represents clients in communities across Harris County that include Pasadena, South Houston, Edgebrook, Allendale, Ellington, and many others. Se habla español.
It’s common knowledge that driving while intoxicated is against the law in Texas, but most people don’t know what the state considers to be intoxicated. For a police officer to arrest you for driving under the influence, you must meet one of the two criteria:
- You had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more; or
- You didn’t have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a dangerous drug.
DWI is usually charged as a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. There are situations where you could face harsher penalties; one of them is having a child passenger. When we think of a child, we think of someone who is younger than 18. But under the state statute that governs DWI with a child passenger, a child is anyone who is younger than 15.
A standard DWI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor, but when the offense is committed with a child in the car, the charge is upgraded to a state jail felony. This may be the lowest level felony offense, but it’s a felony nonetheless.
If the court finds you guilty of DWI with a child passenger, you could face the following penalties:
- No less than 180 days, but no more than two years in state jail
- A fine that can cost up to $10,000
- Up to 1,000 hours of community service
- A suspended driver’s license for 180 days
- DWI education class
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
When you are convicted of a felony offense, you will face collateral consequences that will impact you long after your time has been served. As a convicted felon you could lose voting privileges, the right to receive certain government assistance, the right to possess or own a firearm and work in certain professions.
Because felony convictions have the potential to alter your life drastically, you should contact an attorney right away if you are under investigation for driving under the influence with a child passenger.
Driving while intoxicated with a child in your car could be considered a form of child endangerment, and there’s a chance the Child Protective Services (CPS) can get involved. According to the Texas Penal Code section 22.041 (c), you are guilty of endangering a child if you:
- Intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, engage in conduct that places a child who is younger than 15 years old in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.
As soon as you are charged with DWI with a child passenger, the prosecutors will file a report with CPS. This has the potential to have long-term ramifications on your ability to have custody of your children if you are in a shared custody agreement. Also, if law enforcement cannot locate a family member to care for your child when you are arrested, they will be taken into CPS custody.
Intoxication and Alcoholic Beverage Offenses | Texas Penal Code – Follow this link to learn more about the state’s DWI laws. You can read the precise legal text of the section that governs DWI with a child passenger and how the state defines intoxication. The code can be read on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Assaultive Offenses | Texas Penal Code – Read the section of the state statutes that govern child endangerment. You can learn about situations that are considered an imminent danger to a child, and see how the crime is charged. Child endangerment can be found in section 22.041.
Contact a Houston Criminal Defense Attorney
Because you were arrested for DWI with a child passenger, prosecutors are going to do everything they can to convict you. The attorneys at The Gonzalez Law Group have years of collective experience representing clients just like you. Take the first step in building your defense and contact The Gonzalez Law Group. To schedule a free case consultation, call (832) 530-4070 or submit your information in the online contact form. The Gonzalez Law Group defends clients of DWI offenses in Harris County, TX.