Getting charged with a DWI in Texas can have serious consequences, which include incarceration and hefty fines. If you're charged with a DWI while having a minor in your car, the penalties become much more severe. In addition to facing legal consequences such as child endangerment charges, your parental rights may be impacted. This could result in the authorities taking custody of your child. In this article, we'll take a closer look into the specific details of the felony DWI with a child in Texas.

Understanding Felony DWI With Child

When driving with child passengers, it’s your responsibility to ensure their safety, as they have no control over the vehicle. The following provisions describe a felony DWI with a minor occupant in detail.

Driving While Intoxicated with a Minor in the Vehicle

Texas PC 49. 045 states that driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is a serious offense. This law prioritizes the safety of young passengers by holding those who drive impaired accountable. Intoxication, as defined by the law, is characterized by having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0. 08% or higher. It can also refer to impaired physical or mental abilities resulting from the consumption of alcoholic beverages or other substances.

It’s worth noting that being charged with DWI while having a minor in the vehicle does not require any injury to occur. Even driving under the influence with a minor in the car can lead to severe legal consequences.

Felony DWI With a Child Crime and Child Endangerment

Driving while intoxicated with a child in the vehicle is not only illegal but also poses a significant risk to their safety. It is crucial to prioritize the well-being of children by refraining from any actions that could potentially endanger their lives, regardless of whether they suffer physical harm or not.

Child endangerment is a grave offense according to Texas law (PC 22. 041(c)). This law states that individuals who intentionally or knowingly engage in conduct that jeopardizes the safety of a minor under the age of 15, exposing them to the risk of bodily injury, mental and physical impairment, or death, can be charged with this crime. Protecting the well-being and safety of our children is of utmost importance, and this law serves as a strong deterrent against such acts.

How Texas Handles Child Endangerment in This Situation

Driving drunk with your child in the vehicle can have severe consequences. Not only can it lead to legal trouble, but it could also result in a Child Protective Services case, potentially leading to the loss of custody or impacting joint custody arrangements with a former partner. It is crucial to prioritize the safety of your child and avoid engaging in such risky acts at all costs.

Texas child endangerment laws are stringent in their commitment to safeguarding the well-being of children. It is deemed a grave offense to expose a child under the age of 15 to the risk of harm or death. Not only is drinking and driving alone seen as endangering a child's safety, but if you are also involved in a DWI accident, the case against you becomes even more compelling.

No parent or guardian wants to find themselves in such a situation. It is essential to familiarize yourself with the laws surrounding this offense. This will enable you to swiftly gather a strong defense when faced with charges.

Consequences for a Felony DWI with a Child in Texas

If you are charged with DWI with a child passenger in Texas, the consequences can be severe. This offense is classified under Texas PC Chapter 12 as a felony, which entails a license suspension for a hundred and eighty days, a minimum jail term of 180 days up to 2 years, and a significant court fine not exceeding $10, 000. It is crucial to fully understand the seriousness of these penalties and to seek appropriate legal guidance.

When found guilty, the judge can impose additional penalties along with the sentence. These penalties include the following:

  • Community service of no more than 1, 000 hours.
  • Probation.
  • The installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).
  • Attendance at a DWI program or a repeat offender DWI course.
  • Completion of a drug or alcohol education course.
  • Any additional costs ordered by the court.

In Texas, the extent or inclusion of these additional punishments will count on several elements, including:

  • An impaired motorist has a prior felony conviction.
  • The impaired motorist has prior convictions, specifically for driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • An impaired motorist causes a road accident, potentially leading to serious bodily injury to a minor, a pedestrian, or another occupant in the same or another automobile.
  • An impaired motorist causes an accident and a pedestrian or passenger gets killed.

When a suspected drunk driver causes harm to a child passenger, additional charges will likely be imposed.

If the minor is injured in an accident caused by the driver's intoxication, the driver could also face charges of intoxication assault with serious bodily harm. Furthermore, if multiple individuals sustain injuries, the suspected drunk motorist could potentially face multiple charges of intoxication assault in addition to the charge of DWI with a child passenger.

It is crucial to recognize the severe consequences of drunk driving, especially when there is a child passenger involved. In such instances, if an accident occurs that results in a fatality, the driver can face charges of intoxication and manslaughter, in addition to DWI with a child.

Moreover, individuals with prior felony convictions who are charged with a felony DWI while having a child passenger may be categorized as habitual criminal offenders. As a result, they may be subject to penalties that correspond to this classification.

Administrative License Revocation (ALR)

The ALR hearing is a crucial step in dealing with a Texas DWI charge, separate from the criminal proceedings. Its main purpose is to address the potential suspension of your driver’s license if you refuse to take or fail a breath or blood test. It‘s important to act quickly, as you only have fifteen days from the notice of suspension to request a hearing, regardless of whether it’s your first or subsequent DWI crime.

Taking swift action and requesting a hearing within the specified timeframe is crucial. Failing to do so will result in forfeiting your opportunity to challenge the suspension, leading to an automatic suspension of your license.

DWI Probation

If you are found guilty of felony DWI with a child, probation can be a potential option. It offers the benefit of reducing the mandatory jail time that is required. To improve your chances of receiving probation, it is crucial to enlist the assistance of a skilled DWI attorney. Their expertise enables them to effectively advocate for your case, presenting compelling arguments to the court that highlight why leniency should be granted.

Collateral Penalties Of A Felony DWI With A Child Crime

Drinking and driving with minors in the vehicle not only results in severe civil and criminal penalties but also poses a significant risk of tragedy. The effects of such charges go beyond the normal challenges associated with having a criminal history.

Potential issues with Child Protective Services (CPS) and the loss of certain rights, which most people highly value, can be included. It’s crucial to fully understand the seriousness of these consequences and prioritize safety above all else.

Child Protection Services

Being charged with a felony DWI with a child in Texas not only carries legal consequences but can also lead to issues with Child Protection Services (CPS). The provisions of the Texas Family Code mandate professionals to report any suspected child neglect or abuse to CPS.

Consequently, if you are charged with a DWI and have a minor in the vehicle, the prosecution will file a report with CPS. It is crucial to be aware of these potential ramifications and take the necessary steps to address them. The implications of this report are far-reaching and have the potential to be devastating in the long term.

Some of these effects include the following:

  • If you already have a visitation agreement or shared custody, this allegation and/or subsequent conviction could complicate the arrangement
  • In situations where law enforcement officers are unable to find any family members, it is crucial for the well-being of the minor involved that they are placed under the custody of CPS at the time of arrest. This ensures their safety and provides them with the necessary care and support they require
  • If you’re in the midst of a divorce, this allegation, even without a conviction, could affect child custody proceedings, regardless of whether those charges have already been settled

General Consequences

Having a criminal background can result in numerous collateral consequences. These can include facing challenges in securing employment, overcoming social stigmas, getting professional licenses, securing school loans or scholarships, and acquiring housing. Recognizing and addressing these consequences is crucial to pursuing a more equitable society for people with criminal records.

Losing Your Constitutional Rights

The loss of three specific constitutional rights is a serious consequence, even if the minor is not biologically yours. It’s crucial to be aware of the additional collateral consequences that can arise in such situations.

If you are convicted, you risk losing the following legal rights:

  1. The right to cast a vote in elections.
  2. The right to own or possess firearms.
  3. The right to participate as a jury member.

A felony DWI conviction with a child passenger can result in severe consequences, such as the loss of significant civic responsibilities and the prohibition of firearm possession. This can be particularly problematic for individuals whose professions rely on firearm possession, such as law enforcement officers, military members, security guards, or border patrol agents. The impact on your career and overall quality of life should not be underestimated.

Don't let a felony DWI with a child charge dictate your future. Take proactive measures to safeguard yourself and preserve your future opportunities. Fortunately, with the help of a skilled and reliable DWI lawyer, you can effectively fight these charges.

Possible Legal Defenses For a Texas Felony DWI With a Child

You possess the power to defend yourself against a DWI charge with a child passenger. Although the defense for this charge is similar to any other DWI charge, it is crucial to recognize the additional factor of having a child in the vehicle. By demonstrating that the state has failed to prove all the elements of the crime, you can potentially avoid a conviction. Let's delve into some common strategies employed in DWI cases involving child passengers.

Reasonable Doubt

In many cases, a strong defense strategy involves holding the prosecution accountable for proving every element of the crime against you. For example, if your BAC level was within legal limits or there was limited evidence of your intoxication, you can challenge the allegations and secure an acquittal. By ensuring that the burden of proof is satisfied, you can effectively defend your rights and avoid facing serious penalties.

Challenging The Police Stop

When dealing with a DWI case, it is crucial to begin by questioning the legitimacy of the initial traffic stop. Frequently, the stated grounds are subjective opinions that lack substantial evidence. It is crucial to remember that law enforcement doesn’t have unlimited authority to pull over any automobile they desire. By challenging the basis of the traffic stop, you can establish a solid foundation for your legal argument and protect your rights.

To ensure the protection of your rights, police officers should have reasonable suspicion before stopping your vehicle. Whether it’s running a stop sign or speeding, any traffic offense can serve as a legitimate basis for the stop. However, if the law enforcement officer lacks reasonable suspicion, your attorney has the power to suppress any proof gathered during or after the stop.

An experienced DWI attorney understands the importance of successfully challenging and exposing illegal stops and intrusions, which violate the rights of individuals to be free from unlawful search and seizure operations.

Contesting The Arrest

Challenging the justification for detention after the initial stop is crucial in protecting your rights during a DWI investigation. The courts require law enforcement to use minimally invasive approaches to promptly refute or confirm any proof that supports further investigation or release. By questioning the grounds for arrest, you can protect your legal interests and ensure a fair process is followed.

Unfortunately, there are instances where officers fail to comply with the law by neglecting proper investigations or failing to provide reasonable grounds for criminal activity. In such cases, individuals should seek the expertise of a skilled DWI lawyer. Your defense lawyer can effectively challenge illegal detentions and protect your rights against illegal searches and seizures.

Contesting The Field Sobriety Tests

The subjective nature of officers' gymnastic exercises on the roadside stops can be easily challenged. Not everyone, even sober individuals, is capable of executing these coordination and balance tests. Furthermore, the scoring system utilized by law enforcement is unfair and subjective.

Field sobriety tests are essential tools used by law enforcement officers to identify potential cases of impaired driving. These tests consider various factors, including passing automobiles, signs of nervousness, weather conditions, and the clarity of instructions given by the officers themselves. By carefully assessing these clues, law enforcement can efficiently determine whether someone is driving while intoxicated.

Although these tests might not be scientifically accurate, a skilled DWI lawyer can utilize their expertise to challenge their validity in court. They can work to exclude your performance on these tests as proof or reduce the weight that the jury would give them during the trial. With the right legal guidance, you can navigate through these challenges and increase your odds of achieving a favorable outcome.

Contesting The Blood and Breath Tests

If you have undergone a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your BAC during an arrest, it is important to be aware that there are ways to challenge the test in court. The accuracy of the test result depends on the strict adherence to proper protocols by the individuals involved in collecting and testing the sample. It is crucial to consider these factors when constructing your defense.

Accidental contamination of samples can occur due to human error. For instance, if the officer administering a breathalyzer test does not wait for the necessary time or if urine or blood samples come into contact with other substances, there is a risk of contamination. It is crucial to follow proper procedures to ensure accurate and reliable results.

Considering the possibility of challenging a test based on laboratory errors is crucial. Mistakes such as sample contamination, specimen mix-ups, or failure to adhere to testing protocols can lead to false-positive test results. By bringing attention to these issues, one can successfully motion to suppress the test results and ensure fairness in legal proceedings.

Find a Fort Worth DWI Attorney Near Me

If you are facing charges of felony DWI with a child, it is crucial to promptly reach out to a seasoned lawyer. At Fort Worth DWI Defense Lawyer, our dedicated team of criminal defense attorneys has extensive experience in both prosecution and defense cases. With a specialization in DWI defense, we will carefully analyze the specifics of your case and utilize our expertise to negotiate the best possible outcome or develop a robust defense strategy against the prosecution. With our assistance, you can potentially secure a reduction in charges or even have them completely dismissed. Call us at 817-470-2128.