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DWI with Child Passenger

In Texas, DWI (driving while intoxicated), also known as DUI (driving under the influence) or drunk driving, is a serious criminal offense that can lead to severe legal, financial, and personal consequences. A DWI conviction could result in the suspension of a driver’s license, jail time, fines, probation, community service, surcharges levied by the state Department of Public Safety (DPS), and higher insurance rates. Mobility, employment, and personal relationships may also be adversely affected.

A child who is a passenger in a motor vehicle has no control over how the vehicle is operated and anyone who transports a child in a motor vehicle is entrusted with the added responsibility of the child’s safety. However, sometimes a child is a passenger when a vehicle’s operator is accused of driving drunk.

A conviction for DWI with a child passenger is a felony in Texas that could result in penalties that are more severe than a conviction for DWI alone. Additional implications of a conviction for DWI with a child passenger might be mandatory jail time, court-ordered counseling, modifications of child custody agreements, or denial of child visitation.

Texas DWI with Child Passenger Attorney

If you have been arrested for DWI with a child passenger in Austin, Pflugerville, Lakeway, or the surrounding areas of Travis County, Texas, you need an experienced lawyer to explain the legal ramifications of your predicament and help you learn about your options. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is equipped with the knowledge and resources necessary to defend you. Kevin Bennett is a dedicated DUI attorney in Travis County who will work around the clock to achieve the most favorable outcome possible.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett will take a case to trial if necessary to fight against a conviction and will always uphold the most favorable interests of its clients. When representing you, Kevin Bennett believes in being completely transparent so that you are aware of every single detail pertaining to your case. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 to schedule your free consultation.

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Information Center

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Texas Penal Code § 49.045: Driving While Intoxicated with Child Passenger

The specific state law addressing DWI with a child passenger is Texas Penal Code § 49.045. It is brief, but clear. A person commits the offense if:

  • The person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place, and
  • The vehicle being operated by the person is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age

The only other thing the statute mentions is that this type of crime is a “state jail felony.”

Texas law specifically provides for enhanced penalties for a person who drives a motor vehicle while intoxicated (under the influence of alcohol or drugs) when a child under 15 years of age is a passenger. While a first or second charge of DWI with no child passenger is usually a misdemeanor offense in Texas, the first and any subsequent charge of DWI with a child passenger is a felony, which mandates a minimum of six months in jail if convicted.

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Driving While Intoxicated in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person is guilty of DWI in Texas if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. A person is considered driving while intoxicated if:

  • He or she no longer has “normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol while driving, or
  • A chemical test shows a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher.

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License Suspension for DWI Charges

A DWI charge carries serious legal ramifications such as stiff fines and imprisonment. However, that is not all. A person who has a DWI with Child Passenger conviction will also face driver’s license suspension if they refuse to provide a specimen of his or her breath or blood upon request during the arrest.

The police may use chemical tests, including breath tests, blood tests, and field sobriety tests to determine BAC.  If the accused provides a specimen and it shows his or her BAC was a .08 or greater, their driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days.

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CPS Involvement in DWI with Child Passenger Accidents

Texas Family Code requires professionals to report any suspected child abuse or neglect to the Child Protective Services (CPS). If a parent is arrested for driving while intoxicated with a child, prosecutors will notify Child Protective Services. If this occurs, CPS may even petition a Texas court to remove the child from the parent’s custody.

If you are facing CPS involvement, you need a dedicated criminal defense attorney in Austin who has experience representing drivers arrested for DWI with children. The Law Office of Kevin Bennett is prepared to advocate aggressively on your behalf.

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Texas DWI Surcharges 

In addition to the criminal penalties imposed for a DWI conviction, the State of Texas assesses a mandatory annual surcharge to be paid to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) for three years as a condition for maintaining a driver’s license. A first simple DWI offense imposes a $1,000 annual surcharge ($3,000 total), and the fees escalate with subsequent offenses or offenses with BAC levels of .16 or more.

Anyone accused of DWI, DUI or drunk driving with a child passenger in Austin, Texas or Travis County should consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney right away. A qualified lawyer may be able to find inconsistencies or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case or introduce extenuating circumstances, which could lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.

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Additional Resources

Texas Penal Code — Title 10, Section 49 of the Texas Penal Code enumerates the laws related to intoxication and alcoholic beverages, including DWI and DWI with a child passenger.

Travis County Courts — Travis County courts handle all types of criminal cases. The county courts website contains tools to search court dockets and find self-help information related to DWI cases and provides links to other legal information.

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Austin DWI with Child Passenger Lawyer | Travis County, TX

If you are accused of DWI with a child passenger in Austin or Travis County, Texas, you should contact a qualified criminal defense attorney right away to schedule a consultation. Kevin Bennett is a lawyer experienced in defending people accused of drunk driving, including people arrested for DWI with a child passenger. He will thoroughly review the facts surrounding your case, and use his knowledge of Texas DWI law and criminal legal procedure to weaken the prosecution’s case.

The Law Office of Kevin Bennett represents clients in Austin, Pflugerville, Lago Vista, Lakeway, and the surrounding areas of Travis County. Call The Law Office of Kevin Bennett today at (512) 476-4626 if you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child passenger. Your initial consultation is free, and it will begin the process of defending your freedom and protecting your driving privileges.

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