A driving while intoxicated (DWI) crime is usually a misdemeanor for a first offense, but a person can face felony charges when a child was a passenger at the time of an alleged DWI. When a passenger is under 15 years of age, DWI becomes a state jail felony.
A child passenger is an aggravating factor in a DWI case that a prosecutor is almost certainly going to use to argue for maximum punishment. Worse yet, certain cases could also involve the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) trying to remove a child from an alleged offender’s custody.
Were you or your loved one recently arrested for an alleged DWI with a child passenger in the greater Fort Worth area? These are serious criminal charges that you are not going to want to be handling on your own.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. We will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 is the state DWI law that establishes that a person commits DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, a person commits DWI with child passenger when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and the vehicle they are operating is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) defines intoxicated as a person either “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body,” or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1), alcohol concentration is defined as the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine.
As a state jail felony, DWI with a child passenger often carries far more serious consequences than traditional first DWI cases. Some of the possible penalties may include:
Some alleged offenders in DWI with child passenger cases are charged with the crime despite the fact that their passengers were actually older than 15 years of age. A mistake of age could result in a reduction of the criminal charges.
You could also get your case completely thrown out if your arrest was the result of an improper stop by the arresting officer. It is also possible that errors in the administration of your tests or the maintenance of testing equipment could also lead to charges being dismissed.
Child Endangerment Drunk Driving Laws | Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — MADD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has a mission to “end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.” You can find MADD literature discussing states that impose additional penalties on motorists who allegedly drive drunk with child passengers. Texas is one of only seven states making this crime a felony offense.
Department of Family and Protective Services | Tarrant County — The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney's Office has attorneys assigned to represent DFPS for child protection cases in Tarrant County. When legal intervention is necessary, a petition is filed seeking to name DFPS as conservators of the child and a lawsuit remains pending for 12-18 months after DFPS is named a conservator of a child. Lawsuits may result in family reunification, relative placement, termination of parental rights, or permanent custody to DFPS.
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged DWI with a child passenger in Fort Worth or another area in Tarrant County, you cannot wait to get yourself legal representation. Make sure you have a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling drunk driving cases.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has defended thousands of clients charged with all kinds of DWI offenses throughout Texas. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.