Texas Attorney Advises People Accused of DWI with a Child Passenger
Kerrville lawyer offers robust defense to state jail felony charges
An ordinary drunk-driving arrest is bad enough. Upon conviction, you could lose your license and spend time in jail. But an enhanced DWI charge is more serious, particularly if you’re accused of driving while intoxicated with a child in your car. To protect your rights throughout the legal process and pursue the best possible outcome, you should immediately retain a Texas DWI with child passenger attorney. The Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. in Kerrville provides aggressive defense counsel to motorists facing this charge. I draw on more than 36 years of criminal defense experience to challenge the evidence brought against you and work to minimize the disruption to your life.
DWI with a minor in the car
Under Texas law, a driver commits a DWI if alcohol or drugs have impaired their ability to operate the vehicle. Most often, evidence of DWI comes from a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) test that shows a result of 0.08 percent or higher. However, police can still arrest a driver with a lower BAC if there is evidence that consumption of a lesser amount of alcohol has affected their ability to operate their vehicle safely. Texas law on DWI enhances the charge if the driver has a child aged 15 or younger in the car at the time of the arrest.
Penalties for DWI with a child passenger
Driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, a convicted driver must attend DWI education classes, perform up to 1,000 hours of community service, have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle and have their license suspended. Finally, the driver must pay an annual driver’s license surcharge of $1,000 to $2,000 for three years.
Complications of DWI with a child
Driving drunk with a child in the car is a considered a form of child endangerment, which leads to tougher penalties than a standard DWI charge, which is usually a Class B Misdemeanor. Conviction with a child in the care makes the driver a felon, which means additional consequences:
- Loss of voting privileges until the sentence is completely served
- Loss of certain public benefits
- Losing the right to hold public office
- Losing the right to possess or own a firearm for five years
- Potential loss of child visitation and custody rights
- Difficulty finding employment, getting loans, and finding housing
- Possible restrictions on international travel
With the potential for these harsh punishments, hiring an accomplished DUI defense attorney is even more important when the count involves a child passenger.
Defending against charges of DWI with a child
Drivers arrested in connection with a DWI offense may have viable defenses, including:
- Unlawful stop — If the police did not have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you were breaking the law, evidence collected during the stop can be excluded from the case against you.
- Flawed test results — If equipment is not properly maintained, BAC tests may not be accurate or admissible.
- Failure to preserve evidence — Urine or blood specimens must be properly stored with chain of custody recorded.
- Video evidence — Police dashboard- or body-camera footage might show you driving safely or performing roadside tests capably, refuting the idea that cops had probable cause for the arrest.
Depending on the circumstances and your driving record, a plea bargain that reduces the severity of your sentence could be an appropriate option.
The legal process for someone accused of DWI with a child in the car
After your arrest, you face a difficult legal process that includes a magistrate hearing to set bond, possible administrative hearing on license suspension, arraignment and ultimately a trial. Given the seriousness of the offense, it is critical to have a Texas criminal law attorney who can explain your options and advocate effectively for you during negotiations with the prosecutor and in court. I am ready to begin working on your defense as soon as I receive your call.
Contact a board-certified Kerrville DWI defense attorney for a consultation
The Law Firm of Richard L. Ellison, P.C. provides determined criminal defense representation for Texas drivers charged with all types of DWI offenses, including those involving child passengers. To schedule a consultation, call me at 830-955-8168 or contact me online. My office is in Kerrville.