DWI Child Passenger Texas | Successful Defenses [2023]

What is DWI Child Passenger in Texas?

DWI Child Passenger is a state jail felony that alleges a person was driving a vehicle while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 15. In Texas, driving while intoxicated (DWI) with a child passenger is a separate offense from a standard DWI. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, a person commits this offense if they operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated and have a passenger who is younger than 15 years old.

Notice there is no requirement to show the child was actually endangered. 
 
DWI child passenger under 15 in Texas

If you are arrested for DWI and there is a child passenger in the vehicle, it is a felony — even if it is your first offense. Not only that, a conviction for this offense can negatively impact your life in a number of other ways, including financially, professionally, emotionally, and socially. We aggressively defend these cases in Fort Worth and throughout north Texas. 

What is the Punishment for DWI Child Passenger in Texas?

State Jail Felony
 State Jail Felony Punishment in Texas

DWI with a child passenger in Texas is a state jail felony, which is punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and up to a $10,000 fine. The punishment can be enhanced further if the driver has prior felony or DWI conviction, if their Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is greater than .15, or if anyone is injured or if property is damaged in an accident.

Defending Against a DWI with Child Passenger Charge

At Varghese Summersett, we use various defense strategies to help our clients fight DWI with child passenger charges, such as:

Challenging the Stop

We can argue that the initial traffic stop was not justified, meaning the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over. If successful, the evidence obtained during the stop, including the driver’s intoxication level, could be inadmissible in court.

Questioning the Intoxication Evidence

We may challenge the accuracy and reliability of breath, blood, or field sobriety test results, raising doubt about the driver’s actual intoxication level at the time of the arrest.

Proving Lack of Child Passenger

If we can demonstrate that the alleged child passenger was not under 15 years old or was not present in the vehicle during the incident, the charge could be reduced to a standard DWI.

Will CPS Get Involved If I’ve Been Arrested for DWI-Child Passenger?

Not only are there harsh sentences for driving intoxicated with a child, but there are other serious legal repercussions. Typically, if a parent is arrested for driving while intoxicated with their own child, prosecutors will notify Child Protective Services. When this happens, CPS initiates an investigation into the fitness of the parent. CPS may even petition a Texas court to remove the child from the parent’s custody.

Other legal ramifications of a conviction for DWI with Child Passenger include losing the right to vote, to own a gun, and to gain public benefits. The financial costs, including a higher rate of car insurance, can be detrimental as well. A conviction can also hamper a person’s career and reputation in the community. For all of these reasons, driving after consuming alcohol should always be avoided, especially if there will be children in the vehicle.
DWI child passenger

Is There a License Suspension for DWI Charge?

If you refuse to provide a specimen of your breath or blood upon request during the arrest, your driver’s license will be suspended for 180 days. If you provide a specimen and it shows your BAC was a .08 or greater, your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days. You only have 15 days to request a hearing on your license suspension, so be sure to contact an attorney immediately if you are arrested for DWI with a child passenger.

What are the Bond Conditions for DWI with a Child Passenger?

If you are arrested for DWI with a child passenger, the judge will almost certainly require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle once you are released from jail. Although you have not been convicted of an offense, and are presumed to be innocent, the judge is allowed to impose any reasonable condition of bond to ensure the safety of the community. An ignition interlock device should be expected.

days as a condition of probation

Are Days in Jail a Condition of Probation for DWI Child Passenger in Texas?

Up to 180 days in jail can be imposed as a condition of probation but is not required. Here’s a chart that outlines DWI Days as a Condition of Probation.

What are the Potential Outcomes for DWIs Involving Child Passengers in Fort Worth?

The best outcomes are obviously a dismissal, a no-bill, or being found not guilty by a judge or jury. Short of that, obtaining a probated sentence instead of time in state jail is desirable. If a jail sentence is imposed, the minimum sentence is six months in state jail facility which must be served day-for-day.

Learn more about DWI investigations and prosecution. More information can also be found by referencing Texas Penal Code Section 49.045

Contact an Experienced DWI-Child Passenger Lawyer

If you or a loved one is facing a charge of DWI with a child passenger, it’s vital that you contact an experienced DWI attorney as soon as possible. The law firm of Varghese Summersett can help. We have decades of experience handling these types of charges and a proven record of success. Call today for a free consultation.

Allen K.
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I was convinced I would go to state jail after being arrested coming back from a Christmas party with my family. The prosecutor's best offer for a long time was 6 months but Varghese and Summersett persevered and helped me avoid jail altogether.

In Texas, a DWI with a child passenger occurs when a person is operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and has a passenger who is younger than 15 years old.

DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony in Texas. Penalties can include a jail sentence of 180 days to 2 years, a fine of up to $10,000, and driver’s license suspension for 180 days to 2 years.

While a DWI with a child passenger conviction doesn’t automatically result in the loss of custody, it may be considered by the court in child custody proceedings, potentially impacting your custody or visitation rights.

Yes, depending on the circumstances of your case, probation may be granted for a DWI with a child passenger conviction. Probation typically includes mandatory alcohol education classes, community service, and regular check-ins with a probation officer. It may also include time in county jail as a condition of probation.

Expungement eligibility depends on the outcome of your case. If your case is dismissed or you are acquitted, you may be eligible for expungement. However, if you are convicted of a DWI with a child passenger, it cannot be expunged from your record.

Expungement eligibility depends on the outcome of your case. If your case is dismissed or you are acquitted, you may be eligible for expungement. However, if you are convicted of a DWI with a child passenger, it cannot be expunged from your record.

The police will typically release the child to a responsible adult, such as a family member or friend. If no suitable guardian is available, Child Protective Services (CPS) may be contacted to ensure the child’s safety.

A conviction can potentially impact custody and visitation rights, especially if the court determines that the parent poses a risk to the child’s safety and well-being.

While it is important to have a child properly restrained in a vehicle, it does not negate the DWI with a child passenger charge or lessen the penalties.

DWI Child Passenger

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About the Author Board Certified Lawyer Benson Varghese

About the Author

Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has successfully handled thousands of state and federal cases, ranging from misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases to capital offenses, showcasing his commitment to preserving justice and upholding the rights of his clients. His firm covers criminal defense, personal injury, and family law matters. Benson is also a legal tech entrepreneur. Benson is a go-to authority in the legal community, known for his ability to explain complex legal concepts with clarity and precision. His writings offer a wealth of in-depth legal insights, reflecting his extensive experience and his passion for the law. Not only is Benson an accomplished litigator, but he is also a dedicated advocate for his clients, consistently striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. His authorship provides readers with valuable legal advice and an understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system. CriminalPersonal InjuryFamily Law Contact
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