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  • Writer's pictureJustin Sparks

What Is the Penalty for DWI with a Child Passenger?

The consequences for driving while intoxicated with a child passenger are serious, and in some cases, drivers may be charged with child endangerment if the child is under the age of 15. Therefore, it's essential to obtain legal counsel for the driver if police suspect them of DWI with a child passenger.

When a person is accused of a felony DWI with a child passenger, if the driver has previously been convicted of a crime, that person may be considered a habitual criminal offender.

Penalties for DWI with a Child Passenger

Penalties for DWI with a Child Passenger

According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), if someone is found guilty of driving while intoxicated while carrying a kid, they may be subjected to the following:

  • Fine: Normally, a first-time DWI offense carries a $2,000 penalty. However, that punishment may double to $10,000 if a child passenger is in the car. Texas's first DWI with a child offense is a Class B misdemeanor.

  • State jail felony: Jail time is frequently not a concern for anyone with a first-time DWI charge. However, a state jail penalty of up to two years may be imposed for a DWI with a child passenger, and police officers can arrest them for breaking the Texas penal code.

  • Driver's license suspension: A DWI conviction already entails a license suspension of up to a year. If a person is arrested with a kid in the motor vehicle and is found guilty, they might also lose their license for an additional 180 days. (Find out how to get a restricted license after a DUI)

  • Community supervision: Often known as probation, community supervision may be the outcome of a DWI prosecution rather than jail time. This requires compliance with all probationary requirements, which include regular check-ins with a probation officer and refraining from committing other criminal charges.

  • Installing an ignition interlock device: An interlock device stops the driver from starting the motor vehicle if it detects that they have a certain amount of alcohol in the system. This level is ordinarily 0.00 for someone on DWI supervision. Drivers must be sober to use it, essentially an in-car breathalyzer.

Charges for Child Endangerment: What You Should Know

According to the Texas Penal Code Section 49, a person who drives a car while drunk while carrying a passenger under the age of 15 is charged with Texas DWI with child passenger charges. As per the law, intoxication for a DWI with child passenger is:

  • If they have a blood or breath alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher and can be detected by blood or breath test.

  • They are not being able to use their mental or physical faculties as usual due to drunk driving or drug use.

  • Even if the driver is not suspected of child abuse or did not cause serious bodily injury while driving their car, they might still face criminal charges from law offices.

Working with a criminal defense lawyer who can contest the accusations they face may assist. This will protect both the driver and their family during this trying time when they are facing penalties for a DWI with a child passenger.

Consequences Go Beyond the Realm of the Legal System

Unfortunately, there are other punishments for drunk driving besides jail time, fines, and license revocation. A person may face legal repercussions and career and interpersonal consequences for the DWI. If someone is found guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated while carrying a kid, they may face the following penalties:

  • Professional license revocation

  • Job loss

  • Driver's reputation can get harmed

  • Concerns in a custody dispute

  • Rise in the cost of automobile insurance

  • A legal lawsuit against the driver if they were negligent and caused injury to another person

A DWI conviction may have a significant negative impact on the life of a Texas DWI. Because of this, people require legal representation that will put out a strong defense.

Other Impacts That Could Occur

A crime under the Texas Penal Code Section 22.041(c) is if someone "engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, injury, or physical or mental impairment by act or omission."

If this is the case, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services may decide to bring strict legal procedures against them (DFPS). The child passenger can be taken from custody due to the repercussions.

Defenses That Could Assist Someone in Battling a Felony DWI Charge or Texas Law

A lawyer could assist drivers in fighting their accusations by utilizing defenses suited to the situation. Such arguments could demonstrate to the court, for instance, that:

  • A person wasn't drunk when the incident or arrest happened.

  • The field sobriety tests had mistakes.

  • During the arrest, protocols weren't adequately followed.

  • The chemical test's results were false.

  • As a result, there was insufficient justification for stopping the car.

The defense lawyer may investigate any inconsistencies in the information presented against the driver and use their skills and knowledge to the favor during this challenging time.

Why Hiring a Criminal Law Firm Can Be Useful

Why Hiring a Criminal Law Firm Can Be Useful

Law offices provide an experienced DWI attorney that can take every precaution to protect clients from the adverse consequences of a DWI arrest. The lawyer can:

  • Prepare the defense and collect rebuttal evidence: The defense attorney will compile evidence to counter the state's allegations against the client. Lawyers can demonstrate that the police had no justification for stopping the driver and that the tools or procedures used to measure the blood alcohol level were inaccurate. Anything that indicates that the state's case is not as strong as they prefer to pretend can be used in the defense.

  • Manage all correspondence: The attorney will handle any communications and will maintain control of the situation. It will also work to prevent drivers from implicating themselves or making a mistake that puts them in more legal danger.

  • Even if a person is cleared of a DWI charge, it can impact their personal and professional life. Hence, an attorney is needed to help them maintain a clean record.

  • Analyze plea agreements: The attorney may aid the client by analyzing plea agreements and trying to help him escape the harshest legal repercussions if it doesn't seem like things will go their way and end in an acquittal. No matter what type of conclusion appears likely, they will fight every detail. In many cases, lawyers can offer clients a free consultation.


Overall, the penalties for a DWI with a child passenger are severe, and in some cases, drivers may be charged with child passenger penalties if the child is under the age of 15. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the offense may be penalized. Drivers can be given a state jail felony for up to two years.

Therefore, it is recommended to seek help from skilled legal counsel or experienced DWI lawyers. They might provide a free consultation to achieve fewer DWI charges.


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