While typical DWI charges are misdemeanor offenses, if you are accused of DWI while you have a child in your vehicle, your DWI charge will automatically become a state jail felony under Texas law. According to Tex. Pen. Code § 49.045, you commit DWI with a child passenger if you are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place that contains a child under the age of 15. This is the case even if no one is injured by the incident, including your child.
Potential penalties for a state jail felony may include:
· A sentence of incarceration ranging from 180 days to two years
· Payment of fine of up to $10,000
· DWI education classes
· Loss of your driver’s license of up to 180 days
· Installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle
· Up to 1,000 hours of community service
· Annual surcharge fees to keep your driver’s license for three years
Additionally, the charge can become a third degree felony in certain circumstances, such as when you have certain previous felony convictions. A third degree felony conviction can result in more severe penalties, including increased prison sentences.
Other collateral consequences for a DWI with a child passenger conviction can include loss of custody of your child, restricted or suspended visitation with your child, loss of the right to vote, loss of the right to possess a firearm, and loss of your job, in some cases.
If you find yourself charged with DWI, DUI, or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. As the consequences of any criminal conviction may be severe, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for individuals who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights. Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.