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Are DWI Consequences Harsher if a Child is in the Car?


The penalties for a DWI are harsh, but they become even more severe if a minor is in the vehicle.

Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is a very serious offense in Texas. It is also one of the most common criminal charges laid in the state. The penalties for a DWI conviction are extremely serious, and they can include jail time, high fines, and more. However, when a child is in the vehicle, the penalties become even more serious. Below, our Texas criminal defense lawyer explains further.

Penalties for DWI With a Child Passenger

The statutes in Texas outline enhanced penalties for a DWI with a child passenger. When a person is arrested for a DWI with a minor under the age of 15 in the vehicle, they will be charged with a felony. If you are arrested for driving while intoxicated, and a child under the age of 15 is in the vehicle, the charges are going to be much more serious.

For example, if you are convicted of a first DWI while you are the only one in the vehicle, you will be charged with a Class B misdemeanor. If a child is present, the charges are automatically upgraded to a felony, even if it is your first DWI. If you are convicted, you may be sentenced to at least 180 days in jail. You may also have to pay expensive fines, and your driver’s license will be suspended.

DWI with a Child Passenger and Child Endangerment

If you are charged with DWI with a child passenger, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) may also start their own investigation. This can be a scary and anxious experience. However, it is important to remember that DFPS tries, whenever possible, to keep families together. The DFPS will investigate to determine if the child’s safety and well-being are at risk. In many instances, these investigations show that children are not in jeopardy. Child endangerment charges are separate from those involving driving while intoxicated. Due to this, people can face legal action in both civil and criminal court.

The outcome of your DWI case can affect cases handled by the civil court and DFPS. It is for this reason that it is crucial to speak to a Texas criminal defense lawyer who can help you through both proceedings. There is a lot at stake, and you do not want to go through it alone.

Request a Consultation with Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas Today

Facing DWI charges is scary enough. When there is a child in the vehicle, though, the situation is much more frightening because the consequences are so much harsher. At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, our Texas criminal defense lawyer can review the facts of your case, determine which strategy is best moving forward, and give you the best chance of beating or reducing your charges. Call us today at (210) 222-9132 or fill out our online form to request a consultation and to get more information.