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Penalties for DWI with a child passenger

In Texas, penalties for driving while intoxicated (DWI) increase if there is a passenger under the age of 15 in the car. This ramps up the crime from a misdemeanor to a felony offense. Parents often take their children with them to family barbecues or dinner with friends where they consume alcohol before driving back home.

This behavior constitutes a DWI with a child passenger and opens the door for harsher punishments. Continue reading for a closer look at Texas DWI laws and enhanced punishments.

DWI with child endangerment

The criminal penalties for DWI with a child in the car include:

  • Between 180 days and 2 years in state jail
  • A fine as high as $10,000
  • Between 90 and 180 days of driver’s license suspension

Exact punishments vary on a case by case basis, depending on various mitigating and aggravating factors present.

Factors that can increase punishment

Incarceration and fines may increase or add charges if the driver has previous DWI convictions or the child passenger sustains injuries in an accident. If the impaired driver causes the child to suffer an injury, there may be additional serious bodily injury and intoxicated assault charges.

Child protective services involvement

Due to the unique circumstances of DWI with a child in the car, child protective services may get involved with the case. Law enforcement is required by Texas Family Code to report any instances of abuse or neglect to CPS. If a parent is charged with DWI and had his or her children in the car, the prosecutor will report the incident to CPS.

DWI charges often contain multiple elements. Each situation is different, meaning there may be additional charges or enhancements. When children are involved, the chances of harsher penalties increase. Due to the high stakes involved, anyone facing these types of charges should consult with a criminal defense attorney.

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