DWI with a Child Passenger in San Antonio, Texas
In Texas, DWI (driving while intoxicated), also known as DUI (driving under the influence) or drunk driving, is a serious criminal offense that can lead to severe legal, financial, and personal consequences.
A DWI conviction could result in the suspension of a driver’s license, jail time, fines, probation, community service, surcharges levied by the state Department of Public Safety (DPS), and higher insurance rates. Mobility, employment, and personal relationships may also be adversely affected.
A child who is a passenger in a motor vehicle has no control over how the vehicle is operated and anyone who transports a child in a motor vehicle is entrusted with the added responsibility of the child’s safety. However, sometimes a child is a passenger when a vehicle’s operator is accused of driving drunk.
A conviction for DWI with a child passenger is a felony in Texas that could result in penalties that are more severe than a conviction for DWI alone.
Additional implications of a conviction for DWI with a child passenger might be mandatory jail time, court-ordered counseling, modifications of child custody agreements, or denial of child visitation.
Penalties of DWI with Child Passenger
Texas law specifically provides for enhanced penalties for a person who drives a motor vehicle while intoxicated (under the influence of alcohol or drugs) when a child under 15 years of age is a passenger.
While a first or second charge of DWI with no child passenger is usually a misdemeanor offense in Texas, the first and any subsequent charge of DWI with a child passenger is a felony, which mandates a minimum of six months in jail if convicted.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04: Driving While Intoxicated
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person is guilty of DWI in Texas if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. A person is considered driving while intoxicated if:
- He or she no longer has “normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol while driving, or
- A chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.
The police may use chemical tests, including breath tests, blood tests, and field sobriety tests to determine BAC. A person may refuse a DUI test, but under Texas’ “implied consent” law, such a refusal results in a possible driver’s license suspension for 180 days.
Texas Penal Code § 49.045: Driving While Intoxicated with Child Passenger
The specific state law addressing DWI with a child passenger is Texas Penal Code § 49.045. It is brief, but clear. A person commits the offense if:
- The person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, and
- The vehicle being operated by the person is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age
The only other thing the statute mentions is that this type of crime is a “state jail felony.”
Anyone accused of DWI, DUI or drunk driving with a child passenger in San Antonio, Texas or Bexar County should consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney right away. A qualified lawyer may be able to find inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case or introduce extenuating circumstances, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.
Texas DWI Surcharges
In addition to the criminal penalties imposed for a DWI conviction, the State of Texas assesses a mandatory annual surcharge to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for three years as a condition for maintaining a driver’s license.
A first simple DWI offense imposes a $1,000 annual surcharge ($3,000 total), and the fees escalate with subsequent offenses or offenses with BAC levels of .16 or more.
Find an Attorney for DWI with Child Passenger in San Antonio, Texas
If you have been arrested for DWI with a child passenger in San Antonio, Boerne, Comfort, or the surrounding areas of Bexar & Kendall County, Texas, you need an experienced lawyer to explain the legal ramifications of your predicament and help you learn about your options.
The Parent Law Firm is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend you. Dave Parent is a dedicated DUI attorney in Bexar County who will work around the clock to achieve the most favorable outcome possible.
The Parent Law Firm will take a case to trial if necessary to fight against a conviction and will always uphold the most favorable interests of its clients. When representing you, Dave Parent believes in being completely transparent so that you are aware of every single detail pertaining to your case. Call The Parent Law Firm today at 210-819-4111 to schedule your free consultation.