In September, more than 50 people were arrested on felony DWI charges in Houston. Most felony arrests were based on the fact that drivers had at least two prior DWI convictions. Nine drivers, however, were arrested for felony DWI because they had a child with them in the vehicle. Driving while intoxicated with a child is always a felony in Houston, whether it's your first or fourth offense.
Aggravating Factors in Houston DWI Cases
Without any aggravating factors, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a Class B Misdemeanor for first-time offenders. Aggravating factors elevate the seriousness of a crime. When aggravating factors are present in a case, the potential charges and penalties can be enhanced.
Examples of aggravating factors can include:
- Driving with a blood alcohol concentration at or above .15 percent
- History of DWI convictions
- Getting into an accident
- Causing another person to suffer an injury, and
- Driving with a child in the vehicle.
DWI With a Child in Houston
It's always illegal to drive a vehicle while intoxicated in Texas. A driver will be considered “intoxicated” if their BAC is .08 percent or more or if they do not have the mental and physical capacity to drive safely because they've consumed drugs or alcohol.
The crime becomes much more serious when there is a young passenger in the vehicle. You can face felony DWI charges if you drive while intoxicated with a child under the age of 15.
DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony. If convicted, penalties can include:
- $10,000 in fines
- Between 180 days and 2 years in a Texas state jail
- 1,000 hours of community service
- Drivers license suspension, and/or
- Requirement to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
In addition to these criminal penalties, a driver convicted of DWI with a child can also face other consequences, as well. These may include loss of child custody, limited job opportunities as a convicted felony, and the loss of gun ownership rights.
DWI With Child Could Lead to Additional Charges
Drivers arrested for DWI with a child in the vehicle may also face criminal charges for child endangerment. Child endangerment, as defined in Penal Code Sec. 22.041(c), occurs when anyone “intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.” Driving while intoxicated could be considered reckless behavior that puts a child in serious danger. The likelihood of being charged with both DWI with a child and child endangerment increase if you are involved in an accident.
It's always important to speak with an experienced attorney if you are facing criminal DWI charges in Houston. Aggravating factors can make the consequences of a conviction much more severe. An experienced attorney will know how to handle your case and fight to get you the best possible outcome. Call the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to schedule a free consultation with our skilled legal team today.