It was recently reported that a man was arrested and charged with intoxication manslaughter, intoxication assault, and DWI with a child passenger under 15 years old. The man is accused of hitting two people early in the morning, killing one of them. There were no details released about whether the police tested the man’s blood or breath for alcohol level.
This story is a reminder of how important it is to drive safely, but it is also a reminder that after a DWI investigation in the Dallas area, drivers can face more than simple DWI charges. As you can see from this story, if someone is killed, then the driver will likely face intoxication manslaughter charges. If a driver is accused of DWI while a child under 15 is in the car, then there are advanced DWI charges for that scenario, as well.
Texas DWI Law When Children are Present
There are several charges in Texas that relate to driving while intoxicated. One of the more serious charges that a person could face is found in Texas Penal Code § 49.045 – Driving While Intoxicated With Child Passenger. To be found guilty of this violation a prosecutor must prove the following beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That the driver was intoxicated while operating a vehicle in a public place; and,
- That there was a child younger than 15 in the vehicle while being operated.
If the state can prove this charges, then the penalty is more serious than a typical DWI.
A typical DWI is considered a Class B misdemeanor. A Class B misdemeanor usually involves a fine and some jail time, so it is not as serious as other charges. But a DWI with a child under 15 automatically becomes a state jail felony. In 1993 the Texas State Legislature created the state jail felony designation for charges that are less serious than a regular felony but more serious than a misdemeanor.
Under Texas law, a state jail felony requires the person convicted to serve at least 180 days in jail and at most two years. Any sentence handed down under this provision will be served out in a state jail instead of a state correction facility. The reasoning for this sentencing structure was that it is cheaper to house an inmate in state jail versus a state correction facility.
Defenses and Rights in DWI With a Child Under 15
If you find yourself charged with DWI with a child under 15, it is important to recognize the seriousness of the charges you face. It is also important to know that when it comes to these charges you have rights. Of course, to get the most out of your rights and defenses your case deserves the experience and knowledge of true Texas DWI defense attorneys.
At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm we defend those accused of DWI in the Dallas area. That includes people who are charged with DWI with a child under 15. If you are charged with a DWI in the Dallas area, contact us. We will go over your case with you, inform you of your rights and defenses, and provide you with the advice and counsel you need.