When you’ve been accused of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger while in Texas, you should understand the legal implications of a DWI with a child under 15 present and how it is different from a regular DWI. Penalties are typically more severe even on the first offense for the former, so you should be ready even if you thought you understood the consequences of being convicted of a DWI.
When has a person committed this crime?
It’s against the Texas state penal code 49.045 to operate a vehicle in a public space while intoxicated and while the vehicle that’s being driven is also occupied by a passenger who is under the age of 15 years. Furthermore, this particular offense is a state jail felony.
Legal implications for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger versus without a passenger
The legal implications of a DWI can vary according to the exact circumstances. People who drive while intoxicated with a passenger who is under the age of 15 years will be charged with child endangerment. Additionally, the fines and potential jail time are considerably more than a first offense DWI without a child in the vehicle. For instance, if you have a child in the vehicle, the fine can be up to $10,000, and there’s the potential to receive up to two years in prison. Plus, you’ll lose your license for an additional 180 days.
In contrast, for your first DWI offense without a passenger, you’ll receive a fine of up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail. Additionally, for a first offense, you’ll lose your license for up to a year. For a second offense, the fines are up to $4,000 and the jail time is up to one year upon conviction. Additionally, you could lose your license for up to two years.
It isn’t until the third offense without a child passenger that the consequences could surpass those of someone who has been caught driving while intoxicated with a passenger under the age of 15. On a third offense, the consequences are up to 10 years in prison and loss of a driver’s license for up to two years. Additionally, offenders can be charged up to $10,000 in fines, which makes the third offense potentially much more time-consuming and expensive than a first-offense DWI with a child in the vehicle.
Driving while intoxicated with a child under 15 years can be significantly more expensive, and they can land you in jail or prison for a longer sentence. Having a good criminal defense starts with understanding the law, so learn as much as you can now rather than later.