Each year, many lives are lost in car accidents involving intoxicated drivers. In an effort to deter individuals from drinking and driving, the laws in Texas permit harsh penalties for those convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI or DUI). These penalties are enhanced when the offender endangers a child by having him or her in the vehicle while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Under the Texas Penal Code § 49.045, anyone who is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a passenger who is less than 15 years old, can be charged with Driving While Intoxicated with a Child, or child endangerment.
In Texas, an individual is considered intoxicated if his or her normal mental or physical faculties are impaired due to the consumption of drugs or alcohol, or their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is.08 or above. Mental and physical faculties can be tested during field sobriety tests, and a chemical test (blood, urine, or breathalyzer) can be used to determine an individual’s BAC. These types of tests can be administered by any law enforcement official who has reasonable cause to believe that you are driving while intoxicated.
Many times, people are arrested and charged with DWI when they were not actively driving. The law considers an individual to be in actual physical control of a vehicle if he or she actually in the vehicle, or in a close vicinity to it, and is capable of operating it. This means that the alleged offender does not have to actually be driving the vehicle in order to be charged with DWI. As long as he or she is in actual physical control of the vehicle, while intoxicated, he or she is guilty of DWI.
If an individual is charged with child endangerment in conjunction with DWI, he or she faces a mandatory sentence of between 6 months and two years in jail, and/or up to a $10,000 fine. In addition to jail time and fines, an individually could potentially be subjected to any combination of:
• Having an ignition interlock system place in in his or her car at their own expense
• Up to 1,000 hours of community service
• Community supervision
• Being required to take a drug or alcohol education program
• DWI school
• Additional court fees
The penalties for child endangerment can vary depending on the offender’s BAC, the age of the child, as well as the offender’s criminal history.
Richard McConathy is an aggressive Dallas DWI lawyer who represents clients in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, and Tarrant County who have been charged with endangering a child, as well as other DWI related offenses. Voted a 2011 Rising Star by Texas Monthly, McConathy is a skilled defense attorney who is dedicated to protecting the rights of his clients, and fighting for their futures. Along with DWI related offenses, McConathy also represents clients dealing with charges involving domestic violence, weapons, drug possession, fraud, and other crimes.