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Potential Defenses to Child Passenger DWI Cases

Updated: Jul 20, 2023 @ 10:24 pm

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

As an attorney with decades of experience in criminal law, I understand the anxiety that a DWI charge can elicit. When a child passenger is involved, the stakes rise dramatically. My colleague, Amber Spurlock, and I have a reputation for crafting the most robust defense strategies for our clients facing these serious allegations in Houston. Today, we’ll review a few potential defenses for fighting DWI charges that have the aggravating factor of a child passenger being present.

An aggravating factor, in the context of criminal law, refers to circumstances surrounding a crime that increases its severity and potential punishment.

A Review of Texas Law

DWI With Child Present

Under Section 49.045 of the Texas Penal Code, it’s a state jail felony to operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated when a minor also occupies the vehicle. This statute magnifies the severity of a typical DWI charge. It’s an aggravating factor.

A state jail felony is punishable by a jail sentence of up to 2 years.

But how does one build a defense against such an accusation?

The Matter of “Intoxication”

When fighting DWI charges, one common defense strategy is to challenge the charge of “intoxication” itself.

In Texas, “intoxication” is defined by law as having a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. However, the law also defines intoxication as a lack of the “normal use of mental or physical faculties.” This “intoxication” can be a result of using either alcohol or drugs.

As experienced DWI lawyers, it’s our job to rigorously scrutinize any sobriety or BAC test administered by law enforcement. When preparing our defense, we always look for procedural errors or faulty equipment. If the cops didn’t get it right, which isn’t uncommon, your case could be dismissed.

There’s nothing we like doing more than walking up to a client, shaking their hand, and telling them their case was just dismissed.

Questioning the arresting officer’s assessment (opinion) of your physical and mental faculties may also prove advantageous, as these assessments can be subjective.

Investigating Probable Cause

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. An officer must have probable cause for both stopping your vehicle and making an arrest.

  • Was there a valid reason to initiate the stop?
  • Was the arrest justified?

These are important angles to explore. Any violation of your Fourth Amendment rights could lead to evidence being suppressed. If we can get evidence suppressed, it almost always means the case gets dismissed.

Evaluating Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a typical component of a DWI arrest. However, the science behind these tests is frequently called into question. External factors such as medical conditions or even footwear can impact your performance.

As competent DWI lawyers, we’ll the conditions and administration of these tests. Our goal will be to create reasonable doubt of the prosecution’s charge that you’re guilty.

What if They Took a Blood Test?

While a blood test is a more accurate method to determine alcohol concentration than a breathalyzer, it’s not infallible.

The method of collection, storage, and analysis can all impact the results. Also, certain medical conditions, medications, or diets can affect the test. In many cases, scrutinizing the circumstances surrounding a blood test can provide another pathway for us to defend you in court successfully.

Leveraging Legal Expertise

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, especially involving a DWI with a child passenger, a conviction can mean a prison sentence.

You’ll need a defense attorney with years of experience defending people with similar charges. The Houston DWI lawyers on our staff possess a deep knowledge of the legal landscape.

In most cases, we tend to take a scientific approach to defending our clients. Attorneys Tad Nelson and Amber Spurlock, both ACS/CHAL Lawyer-Scientists, are committed to delivering just that.

Facing Felony DWI or DUI Charges in Houston?

Let Us Take A Look At Your Case

We offer 100% confidential case evaluations and free initial consultations. We’re proud to offer flexible payment options and affordable legal fees. Our law firm has numerous 5-star reviews on Google from our former clients. We also have a clean record with the State Bar of Texas. You can trust us to handle your case with the utmost professionalism.

Remember, a DWI charge is not a conviction. If you’re looking for an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston who knows how to effectively challenge Harris County prosecutors, contact us. Together, we’ll find the best possible outcome for your situation.

To get started, contact us today at 713-802-1631.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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