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D.C. DUI Child Endangerment Cases Require Strong Defense

by | Sep 30, 2013

It’s one thing to be driving drunk. It’s another to be driving drunk with children in the vehicle. It’s another thing still to be driving a school bus drunk with 36 children aboard.

Our D.C. DUI defense attorneys understand that is the crime of which a Colorado man is accused, and it has him facing 36 counts of child endangerment, plus misdemeanor charges of DUI, careless driving and reckless endangerment.

The 57-year-old driver, who surrendered his nursing license last year for reportedly heisting drugs from patients, is now looking at likely losing both his regular and commercial driver’s license.

His case is extreme. However, it’s not rare that someone facing DUI charges would also be contending with child endangerment charges.

A number of recent cases across the country involve parents who were transporting their children to and from school. For example, recently in Florida, a woman was arrested in the vehicle pick-up line at her child’s elementary school, after a school resource officer noted an apparent careless operation of the vehicle and stopped her before her child got into the vehicle.

A similar case, also out of Florida, involved a 32-year-old mom who was arrested at her son’s elementary school after she attempted to pick him up from class driving the wrong way through the parking lot.

And a 43-year-old mom from Michigan was recently arrested in her child’s middle school pick-up line after she angrily responded when confronted by another parent for blocking traffic. Police also reportedly found marijuana and prescription painkillers in her vehicle.

D.C., like most states, has a law allowing for certain criminal enhancements to the DUI charge when there are children in the vehicle. More charges might be filed in cases where children aren’t properly belted in or secured in the vehicle.

The laws vary widely in terms of penalties. For example, in New York, it’s considered a felony to drive drunk with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, the very same offense is considered a misdemeanor.

Here in the District, D.C. Statute 50-2201.05(b)(1)(D) holds that anytime a convicted drunk driver is found to have had a minor under the age of 17 in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the driver is subject to additional fines of between $500 and $1,000 per minor. It’s also an additional 5 days of incarceration if the child is properly restrained and an additional 10 days if the child is not properly restrained.

The consequences of such a charge, however, are farther reaching than simply those immediate penalties. For example, a conviction could very likely have a negative impact in any child custody arrangements or disputes (current or future). If the Child and Family Services Agency wasn’t involved prior to the incident, this could certainly be grounds for them to open an investigation. That could potentially result in long-term monitoring and requirements for substance abuse treatment and counseling.

The best way to avoid all of this is to avoid a conviction in the first place. We can help.

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