Alcohol is the first substance that comes to mind when the charge of driving while intoxicated is discussed. The charge is not restricted to alcohol, however. It includes the use of any drug, including alcohol, which inhibits your ability to function normally, both physically and mentally. This means thatyou may be charged even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of .08%.
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious offense underTexas law. A first DWI conviction can carry penalties of up to $2,000 in fines, jail time of three days to six months, and a driver’s license suspension lasting between three months and one year. The crime is even more serious if you were transporting a passenger under the age of 15 at the time. You may also be charged withchild endangerment, since your behavior could be considered to have put the child in danger of bodily harm or even death.
The good news is that any driving while intoxicated charge is easy to avoid. Before drinking or consuming any other intoxicating substance, ensure that you have transportation plans in place. Taxis and rideshare services offer options, as well. Ideally, you should also arrange for childcare for minor children. These simple steps will ensure that you are not prosecuted for driving while intoxicated or endangering a child.
Penalties for DWI with a Child Passenger
Even with careful planning, unexpected circumstances can still put you in a difficult situation. The penalties for driving under the influence with a child under 15 in the vehicle are very serious because the crime is considered a state jail felony. If convicted, you could face:
Up to $10,000 in fines
Six months to two years in jail
Community service up to 1,000 hours
Ignition interlock device requirement
Up to six months driver’s license suspension
Fees of $1,000 – $2,000 for three years to keep your driver’s license
Although it is a serious crime with serious penalties, you may be able to reduce your sentence with an experienced attorney’s assistance. Your sentence will also vary depending on your prior criminal record, precise level of intoxication, and other circumstances surrounding the charges.
If the court also charges you with child endangerment, you will face additional penalties. Child endangerment under these circumstances is a state jail felony, as well. This means that you may face an additional six months to two years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines. However, you should also note that prosecution for DWI with a child passenger does not automatically mean that you will be charged with child endangerment. Nor does conviction on one charge mean that you must be convicted of the other. An experienced attorney can help to reduce your charges and penalties.
Contact an Attorney
If you are charged with driving while intoxicated with a child passenger, you will need the assistance of the attorneys atAbel Law Firm. These are serious charges, so do not face them alone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
(image courtesy of Benjamin Voros)