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D.C. DUI Can Impact Child Custody Cases

by | Oct 30, 2013

A mother from Minnesota is facing felony DUI and child endangerment charges, following a single-car crash that resulted in serious injuries to her 4-year-old son.

D.C. DUI defense attorneys understand the woman reportedly drove through a ditch and crashed her truck into a tree around 3:30 in the afternoon. The boy had been properly strapped in his back booster seat, but he still suffered serious facial injuries.

The mother, who was reportedly returning the boy from her scheduled custody visitation, conceded to having consumed several vodka drinks earlier in the day. A breathalyzer test revealed she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.232 percent.

Police officials told local media outlets that child protective services had initiated an investigation into the matter.

Of course, anytime a person is facing a felony DUI charge, it is serious. The serious injury of a child is not a scenario the police or courts take lightly.

However, even non-felony cases and those in which children were not involved, have the potential to impact your visitations – and therefore your relationships – with your children.

In a situation where the child is injured in a crash where alcohol consumption is suspected, child welfare caseworkers may be notified by police. However, even in cases where no child was present, proceedings may be initiated by the child’s other parent or possibly even a grandparent or other relative.

In fact, there have even been recent cases in which ex-spouses have alleged their DUI arrests were set up by the other parent in the midst of bitter custody battles. (A recent case out of California is a good example of this. The former ex-wife admitted to hiring a private investigator to follow her ex because she was concerned about how his drinking habits may affect the children. However, his decision to drive drunk, she says, was his own.)

Usually, investigations into the child’s well-being will be conducted separately from the criminal investigation. In D.C., case workers with the Child and Family Services Agency may request records or further details from law enforcement officials and prosecutors. However, the outcome of one case doesn’t necessarily have to do with the other.

For example, the criminal court may find that there is not enough evidence upon which to convict you, but the family court may determine that there is sufficient concern about the safety of your child to warrant further oversight, possible custody restrictions and even removal of a child from your home.

The burden of proof in criminal cases is higher than it is for those in the family court system.

That said, those who can avoid a conviction in criminal court tend to have much better outcomes in family court. A conviction on a DUI charge is seen, at best, as a sign of unreliability and immaturity and, at worst, a sign that a parent may pose a danger to the child.

That’s why single parents especially need to invest in a strong DUI defense, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their arrests.

If you are facing DUI charges in D.C., contact the Scrofano Law, PC at 202-765-3175.