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Jan 17

Child Endangerment | DUI

During New Year’s Eve, police routinely increase patrol cars in an effort to identify intoxicated drivers more quickly to prevent accidents.

As a result, many more people get charged for DWI over the holidays than usual. In some cases, individuals will face charges of DWI with a child passenger. These cases are a lot more severe.

If you happened to be part of that unlucky bunch over NYE 2020, know that consulting with an experienced Texas DWI lawyer is your legal right. It is also one of the best chances you have for understanding your charges and developing the best possible defense for your case.

Texas DWIs At a Glance

Texas drunk driving laws are the 13th strictest in the nation. Individuals facing DWI charges stand to be hit with Texas-tough penalties. What’s more, subsequent DWI offenses in this state are always punished increasingly more severely.

We’ll elaborate…

Penalties on First DWI Offenses Are Already Pretty Steep

  • Fined up to a maximum of $2000
  • Three days to a maximum of one year in jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license up to one year
  • An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 over a 3 year period to retain driver’s license

A Second DWI Offense Doubles the Fine and License Suspension Time

  • Fined up to a maximum of $4000
  • One month to a maximum of one year in jail
  • Suspension of driver’s license up to two years
  • An annual fee of $1,000. $1,500 or $2,000 over a 3 year period to retain driver’s license

Get a Third DWI, Pay Five Times the Fine of a First-time Offender

  • $10,000 fine
  • Two years to a maximum of ten years in prison
  • Suspension of driver’s license up to two years
  • An annual fee of $1,000 or $2,000 over a 3 year period to retain driver’s license

Furthermore, two-plus DWI convictions within a five-year period require the installment of a special ignition switch that prevents the vehicle from being operated if it detects alcohol consumption.

DWI with Child Passenger in Texas

When you are convicted of a DWI with a child passenger in your car, the state of Texas says it doesn’t care whether it’s your first offense. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Plan on facing a state jail felony.

Driving with a Child While Intoxicated is a State Jail Felony

Here’s how things will shake out upon conviction:

  • 180 days to two years in a state jail
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Loss of License for up to 180 days

Offenders may also be subject to any other penalties, such as community service, ignition switch installation, and annual license fees.

You Could Lose Custody of Your Child

Since DWI with a child passenger offenses are often also considered a form of child endangerment, the Texas Department of Family Services (TDFS) may also become involved. When that happens, you are at risk of losing custody of their children.

Fort Worth DWI Lawyer

Common Defenses against Texas DWI with a Child Charges

With so much on the line, it is imperative you have a skilled attorney to argue on your behalf, implementing all applicable defenses. Most successful defenses address the driving-while-intoxicated component since the presence of a child can not be refuted.

  • Challenging the charge based on a violation of constitutional rights (i.e. no reasonable cause to pull an individual over)
  • Challenging DWI tests such as field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests, etc.
  • Challenging police and witness testimony
  • Case-specific defenses (such as driving out of necessity to escape harm)

Ultimately a defense should be tailored to your unique circumstances. While there isn’t a whole lot of them, there may be a logical explanation for the predicament you found yourself in. Tell your experienced Texas DWI attorney everything, and let them help you explain.


About the Author:

Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.



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