Aggravated DWI (driving while intoxicated) charges attract harsher punishment than ordinary DWI. Having a child passenger is one of the factors that can elevate your DWI charges from ordinary to aggravated charges. Below are some of the reasons a child passenger can trigger aggravated DWI charges.
Knowledge of Intoxication
Depending on the age of the child, they may not even know that you are intoxicated. Besides, many adults don't show the classic signs of intoxication even when drunk. Your eyes don't have to be bloodshot and you don't have to stagger or slur your speech to be drunk. Thus, if your child doesn't know that you are intoxicated, they may not know the danger you are exposing them to. This is different from an adult who may pick up on small cues of intoxication and avoid riding with you.
Understanding of DWI dangers
Most adults understand the dangers of a DWI. They know that intoxication impairs judgment, reduces reaction time, interferes with vision, and even makes some people drowsy. All these effects of intoxication increase the risk of a car crash. For example, if your reaction time is slow, you may not be able to stop in time and avoid a pileup accident ahead.
However, a young child may not understand all these dangers. Thus, even if a minor knows that you have taken alcohol, they can still get into the car with you because they don't know your intoxication puts them in danger.
As an adult, you don't have to get into a car with a drunk driver. You can hail a cab, summon an Uber, use public transport, or even abort the journey altogether. A child may not have the presence of mind, ability, a legal right, or even the finances for such alternatives. Thus, even if the child knows you are intoxicated and they are in danger, they may ride with you because it's the only option they have.
Finally, most children respect the authority of their parents or even other adults. Most children trust adults, and you can easily change a young child's mind even if they had suspected something negative. Moreover, the children know that they may get into trouble if they disobey adult directives. Thus, if you order a young child to ride with you, the child is likely to comply even if they didn't want to do it initially.
Don't drink and drive, more so if you have a child passenger. If you are already facing such charges, you are innocent until proven guilty just like other criminal suspects. Consult a DWI attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice system.