Arrested for DWI with a Child in the Car, What Happens?


Anyone convicted of DWI in Texas faces severe criminal and civil penalties.  Even for a first offense DWI, you could face 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine.  A skilled and aggressive Texas DWI attorney can help you avoid possible fines and jail time.  However, it is possible that someone found guilty of DWI will still face a probation term of up two years, monthly fines, court costs, and other expenses that could amount to thousands of dollars.

If you are arrested for DWI while accompanied by a child passenger under 15, you could face even more severe consequences.  These can include probation and prison time.  Therefore, if you have been arrested for a DWI in Texas with a child in your vehicle under the age of 15, we HIGHLY RECOMMEND you hire an experienced DWI lawyer with a track record of working these types of cases.  

If the case isn't resolved correctly, DWI with a child as a passenger under 15 years old can have serious consequences.

For example, a Texas mother was arrested for suspicion of DWI in Texas after picking up her 10-year-old daughter from school.  Immediately if it is determined that the child was endangered or you have prior convictions of DWI, the consequences become more severe. 

We have provided a guide that explains the possible consequences of a DWI with child passengers.

DWI and Child Passenger Penalties in Texas

You automatically assume responsibility for the safety of your child passengers if you operate a vehicle.  Driving under the influence can lead to severe consequences.

DWI with child passengers under Texas Penal Code 49.045 is defined as driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated with one or more minor passengers.

Intoxication refers to a blood alcohol level of 0.08% or higher or the inability to use normal mental or physical faculties due to drinking alcohol or other drugs.

Questions about Texas DWI

How can the police and prosecutors prove that you are intoxicated if you refuse a breath or blood test?

Texas DWI law requires that officers administer field sobriety tests in order to determine whether you are impaired.  Texas has approved only three field sobriety tests as being "standardized" the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, Walk and Turn Test, and One Leg Stand.  The reliability of Texas field sobriety tests is dependent on how the arresting officer administers them.  

Can you show that even though the tests were correctly administered, the results were still not correct?

Yes!  Yes!  These tests should not be used against you if you have any physical limitations or are not coordinated.  A skilled Texas DWI lawyer will review both the DWI reports as well as the videos to verify that the scoring sheets for field sobriety tests were correct and whether the videos show you failing the tests, as the DWI arresting officer claims.  Your Texas DWI lawyer should review this information and determine if inappropriate tests were used, data collection or other circumstances should be considered to throw out your field sobriety test results.

Texas DWI law does not require that you drive a motor vehicle to be considered for it to be in operation.  This is confusing as most people assume that you must drive the car to be charged for DWI.

Consider this: Imagine sitting in your car on a hot Texas summer day with the air conditioner turned on, the car in drive and your car still hasn't moved.  You are actually in a supermarket parking lot waiting on your spouse to pick up some snacks for the afternoon.  In Texas,  you a deemed to be in operation of the vehicle.  This also means that you a liable for any alcohol-related offenses such as DWI.

A DWI conviction with a child passenger can result in a variety of civil and criminal sanctions, including:

  • State jail felony, punishable with at least 180 days imprisonment and up to 2 years in state prison
  • Automatic suspension of your driver’s license for up 180 days
  • Penalties up to $10,000 for criminal offenses
  • Surcharge/suspension fees for keeping your driver's license valid: Minimum $1,000 per year.  Maximum $2,000 for three years.
  • Ignition interlock device
  • Rehabilitation and treatment programs are required.
  • It is important to note that even though no one was injured during the offense, you still face DWI with a child rider under 15 years old.  The consequences are even worse if the child is endangered or you have a history of DWI convictions.

If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been arrested for a DWI in the state of Texas, we recommend seeking experienced legal representation.  Ronnie Yeates has an established track record of working with DWI cases in Montgomery County and Harris County.  Contact our offices today!  Don't wait and assume you know how to represent yourself in these matters.

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