Almost no one intentionally puts their child in harm's way. A common scenario is a family having dinner at a nice restaurant. You may have a glass or two of an alcoholic beverage. On your way home, you stop and get gas and then -- in the light of the parking lot -- forget to put the headlights on until you hear the siren behind you. It's a simple traffic stop until you admit to the officer you were at a restaurant and had a few drinks. He sees the child in the back seat, and before you know it, you are asked to conduct field sobriety tests and are then taken in to be booked on a DWI and DWI with child passenger charges.
These things happen, and it is very unfortunate because an arrest like this isn't only embarrassing in front of your family, but a DWI with child passenger is a felony offense. That means any conviction will likely lead to some time behind bars. If you have a family, a job, and whatever else, you can't afford this type of conviction or a criminal record that follows it. You should contact an experienced DWI defense attorney who has the skills and insight to develop a strong defense.
Carl David Ceder represents clients in the Dallas and Fort Worth metro area who have been charged with DWI crimes, like DWI with a child passenger. Below is an overview of what this crime entails. If you are ready to get started on your defense, contact attorney Ceder today at 469-900-0000 to get started on your defense.
DWI with Child Passenger: How Texas Law Defines It
In Texas, a DWI occurs when a person operates a motor vehicle on a public road while intoxicated by either drugs or alcohol. Intoxication can occur under two condition:
- the person's faculties must be impaired; or
- the person must have a breath (BrAC) or blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more.
In the latter situation, this means a person could be illegally intoxicated but still be in control of his or her faculties, and that's often where some of the problems arise. A first-time DWI is typically charged as a Class B misdemeanor unless aggravating circumstances exist, like a BAC level is at .15 percent or more.
When a person is pulled over and suspected of driving while intoxicated, that person can be charged with a separate DWI offense if there is a child in the vehicle. According to Texas Penal Code Chapter 12 § 49.045, allegedly committing a DWI with a child 15 years old or younger in the vehicle is a state jail felony offense. You could end up with two serious DWI charges.
How Can an Attorney Defend Against a Charge of DWI with Child Passenger?
A skilled attorney can successfully defend against a charge of DWI with child passenger. A simple defense against this charge is proving the child is older than 16 years of age. If this is the case, you are still left with a DWI charge. So, the essence of a DWI with Child Passenger defense strategy is fighting the DWI allegation.
DWI charges can be fought in different ways. Some examples of what could constitute your defense or defense strategy include:
- a review of the traffic stop to determine if there were any violations of your constitutional rights (e.g., you and/or your vehicle were improperly searched or there was no reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a traffic stop).
- a review of the field sobriety tests, including videos of these tests to identify improper administration or any other issues, like environmental issues that could have affected the performance of the test.
- a review of breath or blood tests, including the equipment, the handling of specimens/samples, and the accuracy of the results.
It's important to keep in mind that the State has the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense. Attorney Ceder will challenge the state each step of the way.
Penalties for a DWI with Child Passenger Conviction
The penalties associated with a DWI with child passenger conviction are penalties associated with a state jail felony. Typically, this means you could end up with:
- A driver's license suspension for 180 days;
- A minimum jail sentence of 180 days but up to two years; and/or
- A fine of up to $10,000.
Additional penalties could be imposed by the judge, especially if any of teh below facts or circumstances are true:
- You have a prior felony conviction.
- You have a prior DWI conviction.
- You caused an accident that left another person with serious bodily injuries, which is an intoxication assault crime.
- You caused an accident that resulted in the death of another person, which is an intoxication manslaughter crime.
- Your blood alcohol content was .15 or greater.
Other penalties could include:
- Community service up to 1,000 hours for a felony offense
- Installation of an ignition interlock device
- Completion of a substance abuse course
- Participation in a DWI school or repeat offender DWI school.
Are there Collateral Consequences of a DWI with Child Passenger Conviction?
There are collateral consequences of a DWI with child passenger conviction. You need to factor these consequences into your overall case. They are not consequences you want to take lightly.
A conviction of any crime means you end up with a criminal record. Criminal records can pose serious problems for you, especially if there's a felony on it. Not only is there a stigma attached to the criminal record, but a felony could:
- Prevent you from getting many different jobs in many different industries
- Prevent you from securing good housing -- many communities will not lease or rent to ex-felons
- Prevent you from acquiring or maintaining a professiona license or security clearance
- Prevent you from traveling to certain countries, like our northern neighbor Canada.
There are many other collateral consequences that could materialize as a result of your felony criminal record. Some of these consequences are specific to a DWI with child passenger charge, like losing custody of a child or losing certain Constitutional rights.
Child Protection Services
If the child or children are yours that was in the car, there is a great possibility that the police will contact Child Protection Services (CPS). Officers or any other professional are required by the Texas Family Code to report any suspicion of child abuse or neglect. So, after you are charged with DWI with a child, the police will likely file a report with the CPS.
Being reported to the CPS doesn't always result in serious consequences, but the threat of those consequences are there. This is true especially if ther police cannot find another family member to take custody of the child. Another worry is if you are in the middle of a divorce -- your ex-spouse can use the arrest against you for the purpose of custody and persuading the judge to take her side and not yours. The same is true if you have shared custody and your ex files for a modification in child custody based on your arrest. Typically, a conviction will be necessary in order for the consequences to stick. That's why if the child was yours, you will want to do all you can to fight the charge.
DWI with a child passenger is a felony. As a convicted felon, you lose civil rights granted to you by the U.S. Constitution. You will not be able to vote. You will not be able to own and/or use firearms. You will not be able to serve on a jury.
Losing the right to vote and serve on a jury on rights every citizen should have. Getting these rights back after serving your so-called debt to society is not impossible, but it's also not easy. It takes time and a lot of paperwork.
Losing the right to own and use and firearm, on the other hand, carries is a bit more problematic. It's harder, if not impossible, to get this right back. Without this right, your job may be in jeopardy if you work in an area where a firearm is necessary, like:
- Security guards
- Border patrol agents
- Law enforcement.
What's more, without the right to bear arms, you lose your ability to defend yourself and your family.
The total sum of these collateral consequences makes fighting a DWI with child passenger charge all the more important. Fearing fines and incarceration may seem like the least of your worries. Fortunately, you can get a strong, viable defense if you hire a skilled, reputable DWI defense attorney representing the Dallas or Fort Worth, Texas area.
Aggressive, Smart DWI Defense in Dallas/Fort Worth TX Today
A DWI with a child passenger is a serious offense in Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. The State will use all its resources against you. They say it's to safeguard children, but it's really about putting you behind bars. But a DWI with child passenger case can turn in your favor with the right criminal defense attorney.
Carl David Ceder has been applying his skills and knowledge in DWI cases for years. He is smart. He is committed. And he develops strong defense strategies specific to each client's case. He'll tell you what to expect. He'll explain the consequences and your options. He wants an informed client because informed clients make better decisions for themselves. Contact Carl Ceder today to get started on your DWI defense.