Child Passenger Makes DWI Offense a Felony
There are several aggravating factors in driving while intoxicated cases that can lead to harsher penalties if convicted. Child endangerment is one of the most serious factors because it involves your responsibility to protect the children in your vehicle. A DWI charge that is normally a misdemeanor becomes a felony when children are involved. Beyond criminal ramifications, your fitness as a parent will come into question. DWI with a child passenger is a serious offense that can disrupt your family if not successfully contested.
A passenger qualifies as a child in a DWI case if he or she is younger than 15. A child only needs to be present in the vehicle during your suspected DWI incident in order for a DWI with child passenger charge to be filed. If the child was injured during the incident, that may result in a separate charge of intoxication assault with serious bodily injury. When a child is involved in a DWI incident, Texas law states that the officer must take a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content. DWI lawyers advise that you refuse the test because of the incriminating evidence it can provide. However, refusing the test may result in additional charges. An officer can legally compel you to submit to a test only if he or she first produces a warrant. A warrantless test is unconstitutional in most cases, and the result from the test may be dismissed in court.
In Texas, DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony, which includes:
- A minimum 180 days or maximum two years in jail;
- A maximum fine of $10,000; and
- An automatic 180-day driver’s license suspension.
Intoxication assault is a third-degree felony that can result in two to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Any previous DWI convictions on your record can further aggravate charges.
If it was your child that was involved in the DWI incident, police will likely inform the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. DWI with a child passenger is a form on endangerment, and DFPS will investigate whether it is safe for your child to remain in your custody. DFPS will temporarily put your child in the custody of the other parent or a relative. If neither are available, DFPS will assume custody. DFPS will determine your child custody rights separate from the criminal trial.
Protecting Your Family
A conviction on DWI with a child passenger charges will result in mandatory jail time and possibly losing custody of your child. A San Antonio DWI attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock understands how vital it is to defeat these criminal charges. Schedule a free consultation by calling 888-726-5625.