Carl David Ceder - Attorney and Counselor at Law

Texas DWI with Child Passenger Attorney

Any charge of Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) can lead and possibly result in very serious criminal and civil penalties. If you are charged with DWI, with an additional allegation that there was a minor or child passenger in your vehicle, the repercussions can be even more detrimental and severe, as it will likely result in an individual being charged with a felony offense. Additionally, this type of charge can also be considered a form of child endangerment, or abuse/neglect, which could also possibly result in CPS or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services removing the child from your custody.

Everyone should be aware that a driver can be arrested for DWI could potentially face serious consequences, including ones that are legal, financial and personal in nature. While a DWI conviction can result in punishment in the form of time in jail, possibly even prison, suspension of driver’s license, probation, fines, and surcharges as determined by the department of public safety (DPS). However, if it is alleged that you committed all the elements of DWI, while also having a child passenger in your motor vehicle when doing so, it is treated more seriously and is classified as a felony.

Texas DWI with Child Passenger Law Defined
Under Section 49.045 of the Texas Penal Code, when an individual operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated on a public road and a child under the age of 15 is a passenger same vehicle while the individual operates it, the latter person can be arrested for felony DWI with Child Passenger. A DWI with a child passenger is a separate charge from a DWI, with the additional element of having a child passenger. While a DWI-1st typically will be classified a Class B misdemeanor, a DWI with a child passenger is an offense that can be charged and filed as a state jail felony. The punishment range for a state jail felony offense of DWI with a Child Passenger, which has a potential range of punishment of not less than 180 days but not more than 2 years in a state jail facility, and a maximum fine not to exceed $10,000.

There is an enhanced penalty, as stipulated above, under Texas law for an individual who is charged with a DWI with a child passenger.  under the age of 15 years old. A first or second charge of DWI with no child passenger is a misdemeanor offense in the state of Texas, driving while intoxicated offense with a child passenger either first or subsequent ones is a felony and mandates a minimum prison sentence of 6 months if convicted. Chapter 49.045 of the Texas Penal Code states if an individual operates a motor vehicle while intoxicated on a public road with a child passenger who is under the age of 15, they can be charged DWI with a Child Passenger in Texas. This offense is punishable as a state jail penalty.

The law strongly believes that a child has no control over the operation of a motor vehicle as a passenger, so they are at the mercy of the driver operating the vehicle. As a driver operating a motor vehicle, you are entrusted with additional responsibility for the child’s safety. Often, a child is a passenger when a vehicle operator is accused of driving under the influence. In Texas, a DWI with a child is classified as a felony and thus, has penalties which can result in consequences and stiffer penalties compared to just a misdemeanor DWI by itself.

The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder will fight for you every step of the way. If you or a loved one finds themselves with having to face this type of criminal offense, it is imperative that you utilize a proven and experienced DWI Defense Attorney handling your case so you will have the best representation possible.

DWI with Child Passenger
The majority of DWI charges are filed as misdemeanors, however, depending on certain factors it could be classified as a felony. If you are arrested for a DWI, and there is also an allegation that you had a child passenger in the vehicle under15 years of age, you need to call an experienced, trained, and skilled Texas DWI Defense Attorney. A charge of DWI with a child passenger in Texas carries a range of punishment much more serious and severe. A 1st-offense DWI, without a child in the car, is typically filed as a Class B misdemeanor. For a DWI with a child passenger in the car, and everything else being the same on the facts, the DWI charge would be enhanced to a state jail felony offense. An individual charged with a DWI with Child could potentially face a minimum jail sentence of 180 days up, and up to a maximum of two years and/or a fine up to $10,000.mIn addition, some additional punishments and penalties which can result can include any of the following:

  • Installation of an ignition interlock device;
  • Up to 1,000 hours Community service;
  • Probation or community supervision;
  • Completion of an approved alcohol or drug education course;
  • Requirements to attend and participate in an approved alcohol or drug education program;
  • Court costs, and/or
  • Any additional fees required by the court.

DWI with a Child Passenger and CPS
In addition to the enhanced range of punishment and all of the collateral consequences associated with any Texas DWI offense, an individual charged with DWI with a child passenger in Texas faces potential difficulties with Child Protection Services (CPS). It is clear as written previously that the penalties for any charge of DWI can have serious consequences and can be severe, including much steeper penalties if it is alleged that you did so while also having a child passenger in your motor vehicle. Although the penalties described above are quite severe when considered alone, there are additional factors that can come into play such as involvement by CPS or the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. If CPS gets involved with your family, the repercussions can have long-term consequences and should be treated seriously. This could possibly lead to the removal of your child from your custody.

The Texas Family Code has certain requirements which stipulate how professionals are to report any suspected child abuse or neglect to CPS. Often, if an individual is accused of Driving While Intoxicated, while also having a child in the vehicle, this can be viewed as a form of abuse or neglect.  As such, very often the prosecutor assigned to the criminal case will also take steps to file and notify a report with CPS.  The consequences of any report to CPS such as this, obviously can be and usually are long-term and possibly very catastrophic.

First, if you get arrested for the DWI with child passenger and CPS does intervene,  measures that sometimes will be taken trying to locate a relative to take custody of the child, and if a family member cannot be found, the child may be ordered into the cair of CPS, and often will assume custody of the kids immediately.

Problems can further exacerbate if an individual happens to be in the midst of a divorce (or about to engage in getting a divorce), this kind of charge will negatively impact your child custody case. The mere accusation of being charged in and of itself – even if a conviction has not yet resulted, usually will affect child custody matters (even despite if certain matters were already settled and agreed upon previously).  In addition, in situations where individuals have previously agreed upon shared custody and/or a visitation agreement, being charged with a DWI with Child Passenger could potentially negatively affect such an arrangement. It is also pertinent to note that under the law, it does not distinguish between whether or not the child was your own, or perhaps someone else’s. So, even if you are arrested and, for example, you are with an adult friend who brings along his child as a passenger in a vehicle, these collateral consequences could still all exist just the same.

Additionally, an individual may also be charged with child endangerment. Under Chapter 22.041(c) of the Texas Penal Code, child endangerment is defined by whether someone engaged in conduct “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly or with criminal negligence, by act or omissions, engages in conduct which places a child under 15 years of age in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”

Contact Us Now
A charge of DWI with a child in Texas is a very serious offense, carrying many direct and collateral consequences when just merely arrested, let alone if a conviction results. A charge of DWI with child passenger in Texas is a state jail felony offense, and associated with it are very steep and severe penalties that could threaten your career, reputation, and your future. The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder are DWI Defense attorneys with a wealth of experience and knowledge on how best to mount a successful defense.

Experienced Dallas and Collin County DWI Defense attorney Carl David Ceder, the DFW Defender, will use all the applicable and appropriate legal means available to help you contest this charge, with the goal of hopefully putting you in position in the future to freely move on with your life without lasting repercussions. Do not let all of the consequences that can ensue with being charged with this offense put your entire life in jeopardy, and obtain the experienced and skilled legal counsel you need.

If you have been charged with DWI with child passenger anywhere in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex contact The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder for expert assistance. Attorney Carl David Ceder is highly trained and experienced in defending against every type of DWI charge, regardless of the facts or what it is classified as. Attorney Carl David Ceder is a knowledgeable Texas DWI lawyer who will contest the allegations against you in a professional manner, and your case will be handled by a highly experienced and trained DWI Defense attorney. Call The Law Offices of Carl David Ceder at any time for assistance at 214.702.CARL(2275) or at 469.2000.DWI(394) for help with any DWI charge in Texas.