Parker County - TX
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Law Offices Of Richard C. McConathy
A child who is a passenger in a vehicle relies completely on the driver to operate the vehicle safely. Yet sometimes a person drives a vehicle while intoxicated. When a drunk driver transports a child passenger, it is a felony DWI in Texas and the law provides for enhanced DWI penalties.
In Texas, Driving while intoxicated (DWI), also known as driving under the influence (DUI) or drunk driving, is most often a criminal misdemeanor that may result in severe penalties. But under Chapter 49.045 of the Texas Penal Code, DWI with a child passenger under the age of 15 is upgraded to a state jail felony, with much harsher penalties and fines than a misdemeanor charge, as well as the possibility of other adverse consequences.
A charge of DWI with a child passenger may also lead to an investigation into the child’s welfare by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, with the possible loss of custody due to child endangerment. Convicted felons in Texas also lose certain rights, such as the right to vote or own a gun, and face roadblocks to certain educational and employment opportunities.
A driving while intoxicated (DWI) crime is usually a misdemeanor for a first offense, but a person can face felony charges when a child was a passenger at the time of an alleged DWI. When a passenger is under 15 years of age, DWI becomes a state jail felony.
A child passenger is an aggravating factor in a DWI case that a prosecutor is almost certainly going to use to argue for maximum punishment. Worse yet, certain cases could also involve the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) trying to remove a child from an alleged offender’s custody.
Were you or your loved one recently arrested for an alleged DWI with a child passenger in the greater Fort Worth area? These are serious criminal charges that you are not going to want to be handling on your own.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or completely dismissed. We will provide a complete evaluation of your case as soon as you call (817) 458-3226 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
According to section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code, a driving while intoxicated offense could occur if an individual operates or drives a motor vehicle on a public road while they are intoxicated from the use of alcohol or drugs.
Alcohol concentration is defined in Texas as the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine. This is also commonly known as breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
According to Texas law, an individual is considered intoxicated when they no longer are able to use their normal mental or physical faculties from the consumption of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Additionally, Texas law has a per se intoxication law, where an individual is considered intoxicated, no matter what, if their alcohol concentration level is .08 or higher. This per se law will automatically result in a DWI arrest if an individual blows or is tested at .08 or higher.
An individual’s normal mental or physical faculties are things a person can do on an everyday basis with little to no thought. These often include breathing, walking, talking, and being able to balance.
A motor vehicle is defined in Texas as something a person may use for transportation or something property may be transported in or on, except for devices that are used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks, such as railroads or metro rails.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 is the state DWI law that establishes that a person commits DWI if they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.045, a person commits DWI with child passenger when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place and the vehicle they are operating is occupied by a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age.
Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) defines intoxicated as a person either “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body,” or having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(1), the alcohol concentration is defined as the number of grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, 100 milliliters of blood, or 67 milliliters of urine.
Some of the terms related to the offense of DWI with Child Passenger are defined in the Texas statutes, including a motor vehicle, intoxicated, and alcohol concentration.
Texas defines a “motor vehicle” as something a person may use for transportation or something property may be transported in or on, except for devices that are used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks, such as railroads or metro rails.
“Intoxicated” is defined as:
Not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more
Under Texas P.C. § 49.01(1), “alcohol concentration” means the number of grams of alcohol per:
In order for a Texas judge a jury to convict a person of DWI with a Child Passenger, they must find that a person, beyond any reasonable doubt:
As a state jail felony, DWI with a child passenger often carries far more serious consequences than traditional first DWI cases. Some of the possible penalties may include:
DWI with child passenger convictions can also lead to suspensions of driver’s licenses for up to 180 days. A person only has 15 days to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Hearing to contest their suspension.
Some alleged offenders in DWI with child passenger cases are charged with the crime despite the fact that their passengers were actually older than 15 years of age. A mistake of age could result in a reduction of criminal charges.
You could also get your case completely thrown out if your arrest was the result of an improper stop by the arresting officer. It is also possible that errors in the administration of your tests or the maintenance of testing equipment could also lead to charges being dismissed.
Child Endangerment Drunk Driving Laws | Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) — MADD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that has a mission to “end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes, and prevent underage drinking.” You can find MADD literature discussing states that impose additional penalties on motorists who allegedly drive drunk with child passengers. Texas is one of only seven states making this crime a felony offense.
Department of Family and Protective Services | Tarrant County — The Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office has attorneys assigned to represent DFPS for child protection cases in Tarrant County. When legal intervention is necessary, a petition is filed seeking to name DFPS as conservators of the child and a lawsuit remains pending for 12-18 months after DFPS is named a conservator of a child. Lawsuits may result in family reunification, relative placement, termination of parental rights, or permanent custody to DFPS.
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged DWI with a child passenger in Fort Worth or another area in Tarrant County, you cannot wait to get yourself legal representation. Make sure you have a criminal defense attorney who has experience handling drunk driving cases.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy has defended thousands of clients charged with all kinds of DWI offenses throughout Texas. Call (817) 458-3226 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.
Flying While Intoxicated
Third or Subsequent DWI
DWI with BAC over 0.15
Controlled Substances and DWI
DWI Test Refusal and Implied Consent
License Suspension Hearings
DWI with Child Passenger
Contesting Blood Alcohol Tests
Ignition Interlock Device
DWI with Property Damage
SR-22 / DWI Insurance