Denton DWI While Driving with a Child

Getting a DWI is troubling enough, but if you are pulled over for drunk driving with a child in the back, there is every likelihood of more serious penalties than if you received the DWI driving alone or with just adults in the car.

What constitutes a DWI with a child in the vehicle?

According to Texas Penal Code 49.045, a DWI with a child is when an intoxicated person is driving in public with passengers in the vehicle who are under age 15. You are intoxicated if your blood alcohol level is 0.08% or higher and/or you do not have your usual faculties due to the effects of consuming alcohol and/or other drugs.

Penalties for People Arrested for DWI with a Child in the Car

According to Texas law, the penalties that drunk drivers typically face when arrested for DWI with a child in the vehicle depends on whether the child suffered any injuries or not:

If the Child Suffered No Injuries

Even if the child is uninjured, you will still be charged with a state jail felony and face additional penalties over and above the penalties you’re already facing with a DWI/DUI offense.

These are the penalties:

  • Felony Charge on Your Public Record
  • Up to a Two-year State Jail sentence
  • Fines of up to $10,000
  • Possible Additional charges for child endangerment


If the Child Suffered Injuries

If the child riding with you suffers any serious injuries from a car accident in which you were driving drunk, you will be subjected to charges of Intoxication Assault. Intoxication Assault is a Third Degree Felony and can result in a term in prison of up to 10 years.

If a Child Passenger is Killed

If a child riding with you in your car is killed in a DWI collision, you would likely have Intoxication Manslaughter charges.

Further Consequences of Being Arrested for DWI with a Child Passenger

Along with the criminal penalties outlined above, there are even more repercussions that could follow a DWI arrest when there’s a child in the car, as follows:

  • Ignition interlock service installed in your car
  • Attend regular DWI school or DWI school for repeat offenders
  • Complete an alcohol and/or drug education course

Collateral Consequences

When you are arrested for DWI with a child in your car there are a series of collateral consequences that can negatively affect your life. Since the civil and criminal penalties for these infractions are quite serious, the collateral damages are typically more severe than the damages imposed for other associated crimes.

General collateral damages: These would involve the stigma of having a criminal record, problems gaining employment, difficulty getting or maintaining professional licenses, and risks of losing school loans and/or scholarships. Also, you might face challenges renting an apartment or buying a home in the neighborhood you prefer.

Child protection services (CPS): You risk having CPS take action after you’ve been arrested for a DWI when a child is with you in the car. The Texas Family Code forces professionals to make a report to CPS when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected. According to this code, once you’ve been charged with a DWI/DUI, the prosecutor is mandated to file a report with CPS if your child was in the car when you were being arrested. The repercussions of this report are long-lasting and life changing.

The repercussions are as follows:

  • Loss of custody: If law enforcement cannot find a suitable family member when you are being arrested, your child will be turned over to CPS.
  • Adversely affect your divorce: If you and your spouse are getting divorced, a DWI/DUI charge alone can negatively affect child custody arrangements, even if this had already been settled.
  • Negatively affect shared custody: If you enjoy shared custody or have an agreement on visitation, a DWI with your child as a passenger could negatively impact that agreement.
  • Loss of Certain Constitutional rights: You are at risk of losing your Constitutional rights if you are found guilty of a DWI/DUI while driving with a child in your car. This could include your right to vote, to possess/bear firearms, and your right to serve jury duty.

Contact the Peugh Law Firm for Help

Being arrested for a DWI with a child passenger can subject you to jail time, expensive fines, a ruined reputation, and other very serious repercussions. Luckily, there are legal experts that can help you avoid or at least reduce the impact a felony DWI arrest can have on your life.

If you have been arrested for DWI/DUI with a child riding with you in the car, you do not have a minute to waste. Contact Daniel K. Peugh at The Peugh Law Firm in Denton for legal advice and help devising an aggressive legal defense. He has the experience and knowledge to come up with the most effective strategy to defend your case. He can be reached at (940) 566-0271.