There is not a driver on our roads who is not aware of the fact that driving under the influence of alcohol is exceedingly dangerous and irresponsible. Nevertheless, the State of Texas continues to experience excessively high rates of traffic accidents that involve alcohol. Like other states, Texas imposes a minimum DWI standard of .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC), but the fact is – if the state determines that your ability to drive safely and responsibly was impaired – you can be arrested for and convicted of DWI for a lower BAC.
The penalties associated with a first DWI are serious, but if an aggravating factor – such as driving with a child passenger who is under the age of 15 – is involved, it is a state jail felony, and the penalties are much harsher. Fortunately, in many cases, the representation of a Killeen criminal defense lawyer can help mitigate the consequences you are facing.
The Associated Penalties
As noted, the penalties for a first DWI conviction with no aggravating circumstances are serious, including:
- A fine of up to $4,000
- A sentence of from 30 days to one year in jail
- A driver’s license suspension of up to one year
There is nothing easy about any of this, but if you are convicted of driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, these penalties have much more bite, including:
- A fine of up to $10,000
- A sentence of up to 2 years in jail
- A driver’s license suspension of up to 2 years
The point that the State of Texas is trying to make is that when a child who is not yet 15 is your passenger, that child has no say in the arrangement – and likely cannot decline the ride. In fact, the child probably does not even recognize the danger involved.
A DWI with a child passenger conviction does not stop with the penalties described. Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger can be considered a form of child endangerment (whether the child is harmed or not). In Texas, child endangerment is defined as engaging in behavior that intentionally, recklessly, or by acts of omission endangers a child who is under the age of 15. If the Texas Department of Family Services involves itself in the case, you could stand to lose custody of your children. In other words, if you are facing charges of DWI with a child passenger, you are facing extremely serious charges, and if you are convicted, you face dire consequences.