All DUIs are serious incidents with severe consequences. However, a DUI with children in the car has particularly harsh consequences. In addition to putting your own lives and future at risk, you put your children’s lives at risk. The incident happens more frequently than you might think. Find out everything you should know about a DUI with children.
How Common Is a DUI With Children?
If you ever watch the news, then you know that DUIs sometimes involve children. No matter where you live, you can hear stories about parents who drive drunk with their children in the car. Often, those incidents have terrible consequences. About 20% of traffic deaths that involve children under the age of 15 involve alcohol. If you drive drunk with a child present, then you put their lives at risk.
In one Texas incident, two parents left a bar with their 13-year-old and seven-year-old children. The parents were too drunk to drive. Instead of calling for a taxi, they let their 13-year-old drive. The police pulled over the vehicle for slow and erratic driving. Then, they arrested the parents for child endangerment. Although the parents tried to avoid a DUI, they still put the lives of their children at risk.
In Florida, a mother drove drunk with her three-year-old in the back seat. She drew attention by driving in between lanes and in a zig-zag pattern. After a driver called the police, the police pulled the woman over. When they did, they found the child unrestrained. The mother blew a .20, which showed that she was well over the legal limit. She faced a DUI charge as well as one for child abuse.
In other situations, the parents attempt to drive. However, the result is never a good one. At sobriety checkpoints, police often find drunk drivers with child passengers. Sometimes, the police are too late. They find children at the scene of a DUI accident. The incident is common enough that many states feel the need to address the issue.
If you drive drunk with children in the car, then the penalties are severe. In addition to facing the typical DUI penalties, you could also lose your children. It depends on the state where the incident occurred. However, wherever you live, your state takes a DUI with children seriously.
In some states, there are harsher penalties for driving drunk with children in your vehicle. Instead of facing a misdemeanor conviction, you could have a felony. Your mistake could follow you around for the rest of your life. In addition to facing years in prison, you could lose out on work and housing opportunities after your sentence. Your future could be bleak.
In any case, it’s likely that a judge will not look kindly upon your actions. Even with a low BAC and no accident, a judge could issue you with the maximum sentence. If you involve children in a DUI, then a judge will not go easy on you during sentencing.
Some states also consider driving drunk with a child as child endangerment. In addition to a DUI charge, you could face charges of endangerment. As the child’s caretaker, it is your responsibility to protect him. When you drive drunk with a child, you neglect that responsibility. Whatever your intentions were, your actions were dangerous. A court could decide that your actions fit the definition of abuse or endangerment.
In any state, child endangerment is a serious offense. The consequences don’t only impact your life. They impact your child’s. If you have a custody agreement with the child’s other parent, then your DUI with children involved could change that agreement. A court might decide that you only deserve supervised visitation. In some cases, they might prohibit any contact with the child. For the rest of your life, your endangerment charges could haunt you.
Your child endangerment charges aren’t the only consequence. Often, Child Protective Services looks into cases that involve a DUI with children. If they don’t like what they find in their investigation, then you could lose your children.
Preventing the Incident
When you drive drunk with children, you put their lives at risk. As a result, the stakes are high. There is no happy ending to drunk driving with children in the vehicle.
To prevent a bad outcome, you should avoid driving drunk with children at all costs. When you go out with them, avoid drinking. If you do drink, use a portable breathalyzer and make sure that your BAC is low enough to drive. Some apps allow you to keep track of your drinking. Then, they estimate your BAC. Using a tool to know about your sobriety can prevent a DUI.
If you think that you might be drunk, call a friend or a taxi. It’s the only sure-fire way to prevent drunk driving. And it can protect your family.