In Texas, there are severe criminal and civil consequences for motorists who are convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI). Drivers who have a child passenger under the age of 15 years old in the vehicle at the time of the arrest, however, face even more serious penalties, especially if they are also involved in a car accident.
With so much at stake, it is particularly important for those who have been accused of causing a DWI accident while traveling with a minor, to speak with an experienced Houston DWI car accidents lawyer who can help them build a defense.
Standard DWI Charges
In Texas, driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or more is typically charged as a Class B misdemeanor if it is the driver’s first offense, unless the driver’s BAC reaches .15 percent, at which point, it becomes a Class A misdemeanor.
There is an exception to these rules, however, that applies in cases where a child passenger is in the vehicle at the time of arrest. In these situations, a driver’s charge will be enhanced to a state jail felony and if convicted, he or she will face much more serious penalties.
Those who are convicted of DWI with a minor face severe penalties, even for a first offense. These penalties include:
- At least six months, but up to two years in a state jail;
- The automatic suspension of their driver’s license for up to six months;
- Fines of up to $10,000;
- A surcharge fee to retain their driver’s license for the next three years;
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicle;
- Mandatory treatment at a rehabilitation program; and
- Mandatory drug and alcohol testing.
The consequences of conviction, however, become even more serious if a driver is also accused of causing an accident while traveling with a child, as he or she could also be charged with child endangerment.
Child Endangerment Charges
Under Texas law, a person can be convicted of child endangerment if he or she puts a child under the age of 15 years old at risk of injury, physical impairment, or death. In cases involving allegations of DWI in the presence of a minor, prosecutors often argue that a motorist has satisfied this standard merely by driving while intoxicated.
The case against a defendant becomes even stronger if an accident actually occurred, especially if the child was injured. In the latter case, a defendant could face additional charges of vehicular assault.
Have You Been Accused of Causing a DWI Accident?
Just because a person is accused of, or charged with, DWI with a child passenger, does not mean that he or she will automatically be convicted. This is because defendants are guaranteed the opportunity to defend themselves, an endeavor that is much more likely to succeed for those who are represented by an attorney.
For help with your own DWI charges, please call the experienced DWI car accidents attorneys at The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today. You can schedule an initial consultation with a member of our legal team by calling our office at 713-802-1631.