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Child Custody | DUI

DUI Child Endangerment

6 min read
Francesca Toledo, J.D.

by Francesca Toledo, J.D.

Driving while impaired is always a bad idea, but more so when there is a child in the vehicle. Operating a vehicle while under the influence can not only mean serious penalties but may seriously endanger your life and the life of the child.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI and child endangerment, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. Unbundled Legal Help can connect you with a local attorney for a free consultation.

What Is a DUI?

DUI is the acronym for “driving under the influence.” In some states, it is also referred to as DWI for “driving while intoxicated” or “driving while impaired.” 

No matter what your state calls it, it means the same thing: you are being charged with a serious offense, putting yourself and others at risk. A person can be charged with a DUI for their impairment caused by either alcohol and/or drugs, whether recreational or prescription. If you are under the influence and cannot safely operate a vehicle, you put yourself in a situation to be stopped by the police, examined, and charged with a DUI.

Know the Difference in Your State

As stated, DUIs are not always referred to by that exact acronym. It is important to know what your state calls DUIs and what the differences may be. 

In some states, DUI and DWI are used interchangeably and mean the same thing. In others, DUI and DWI are both used but may describe different types of impairment.

Some states use one to describe impairment from alcohol and the other for drugs. For example, some locations use the term DWI when dealing with an individual whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit. When an individual is actually charged with being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, it is then referred to as a DUI.

DUIs are defined differently from state to state. Discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney to better understand your situation.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony

Regarding DUIs, the question typically arises: Is this a misdemeanor or a felony?

A misdemeanor is a crime, but less severe than a felony. Depending on the misdemeanor, you may face small fines and short jail time. On the other hand, a felony is considered a much more serious crime, with possible consequences including large fines and long prison sentences. 

Typically, DUIs are considered misdemeanors. If the DUI results in serious injury or death or you’ve received multiple DUIs, then it can be bumped up to a felony. However, if you are driving under the influence and have a child in the vehicle, it is often automatically considered a felony.

DUIs can have serious, life-changing consequences. For answers to your questions and advice on how to proceed, discuss your case with a lawyer.

What Is Child Endangerment?

Child endangerment involves mistreatment of a child, whether physically or psychologically. Child endangerment charges are common in situations where an adult puts a minor in a potentially life-threatening situation.

Thus, if an individual is stopped and found to be driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle, this is viewed as child endangerment. Depending on the state, charges may be filed for DUI child endangerment or alternatively, one for DUI and one for child endangerment. 

Are Charges Escalated if Multiple Children Are Involved?

Laws regarding multiple children vary by state. In some states, it does not matter how many children are in the vehicle, it all falls under one charge for DUI child endangerment. In other states, a person may face separate charges for every child they put in danger while driving under the influence. 

Will a DUI with Child Endangerment Affect My Child Custody Case?

If you are in the middle of a child custody case and face a charge for DUI child endangerment, this can greatly affect your case. The court will view you as a risk to your child’s well-being. If you face jail time, this can impact time spent with your child.

Consequences for DUI Child Endangerment 

The consequences for DUI child endangerment will depend on the jurisdiction, or location, where the incident occurred, as well as specific details.

As mentioned, this type of crime involves a misdemeanor or a felony offense. If DUI child endangerment is a misdemeanor in your state, you may face fines and some jail time. But if the charge is a felony, consequences may be more serious. Felonies often mean heavier fines and prison time. Additionally, facing a felony charge may put you at risk of losing certain privileges, including your driver’s license or your right to vote. You will also have a permanent criminal record. 

DUI child endangerment charges are serious and can have devastating consequences—don’t take it lightly. Discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney to better understand what these charges can mean for you and how to possibly defend against them.

Defending against a DUI with Child Endangerment

Most details regarding charges for DUI child endangerment defenses vary from state to state. Nonetheless, some defenses are available to you. Some of the most common defenses include:

  • Inaccurate field sobriety or blood test: Officers determine if an individual is under the influence. They may conduct a field sobriety test, having you perform certain tasks at the scene of the stop, or a blood test. You may argue that the officer was not trained to give a field sobriety test, or did not perform it properly. If blood was drawn, you might question the accuracy of the results. 
  • The breathalyzer was not calibrated correctly: A breathalyzer measures a person’s blood alcohol content. These devices require regular maintenance and calibration. An improperly calibrated machine can produce unreliable results.
  • It was an illegal stop: A police officer must have probable cause to stop you. If you can prove the officer lacked probable cause when conducting the stop, you may be able to use this as a defense.

While you might have some defenses at your disposal, it is best to have a qualified attorney on your side. A lawyer can come up with defenses and present them to the court in a competent manner, giving you your best chances at defending against DUI child endangerment charges. 

Why a DUI Lawyer Is Important

Under the law, you do not need a lawyer to represent you. Even so, you will find having an advocate on your side will help give you peace of mind and the best prospect at addressing charges against you.

After a DUI child endangerment charge, you will undoubtedly face many stresses. Even if you are familiar with the criminal justice system, few people understand the day-to-day rhythm of the court.

At Unbundled Legal Help, we believe everyone deserves access to affordable legal help. We’re ready to hear your story and help match you with a lawyer that’s able to take your case.

Before you go further, have a free call with a DUI attorney. After a free consultation about your case, lawyers in Unbundled Legal Help’s network provide full representation for 50% less than most other attorneys.

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