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D.C. DUI With Children in Vehicle Means Enhanced Penalties

by | Aug 12, 2013

Throughout the country recently, there have been a number of DUI arrests reported in which passengers of those drivers included children.

Our D.C. DUI lawyers know these cases require an especially skilled defense team, as the consequences have the potential to not only to affect one’s freedom, driving privileges and pocketbook, but also child custody.

There is also the possibility of additional charges if the motorist is accused of operating the vehicle in a particularly reckless manner.

D.C. Statute 50-2201.05(b)(1)(D) holds that any intoxicated driver who is accompanied by a passenger who is 17 or younger is subject to additional penalties. Those include a minimal additional fine of $500 for each minor passenger. That fine could be as much as $1,000 per child. There is another 5-day incarceration penalty for each child who is properly restrained and 10 additional days in jail for a child who is improperly restrained.

Keep in mind that the base penalties for a first-time DUI in D.C. includes a maximum three months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 and a license suspension of six months. A person whose blood-alcohol level is 0.15 percent or higher (the legal limit is 0.08 percent) will face double those penalties. A two-time offender will face up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000 and a one year license suspension.

Among the recent national cases involving child passenger DUIs are:

A Chicago woman who was arrested on charges of DUI and child endangerment after crashing her sport utility vehicle, injuring the nine children inside, ages 3 to 14. Four of those children were her own, and several of them were not properly restrained in seat belts. The most serious of the child injuries included a 5-year-old said to be in critical condition, though none of the injuries were believed to have been life-threatening. Authorities said the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when it rolled onto the right embankment. No other vehicles were involved.

Another case out of Tulsa, OK involved a woman who crashed into another vehicle while her own three small children were in the vehicle with her. It’s not clear exactly how the crash happened, but authorities say when they arrived, the woman had three small children – two 8-year-olds and a 3-year-old – in the vehicle with her. The youngest was not properly restrained, but the children were not hurt. A passenger in the second vehicle was reportedly severely injured. Officers say the defendant displayed signs of drunkenness, could not follow simple directions and blew a breathalyzer result of 0.255 percent – more than three times the legal limit.

In a third case, out of South Carolina, there was no wreck, but an officer spotted a vehicle swerving before initiating a stop. The officer noted the 34-year-old driver smelled of alcohol. Three children, ranging in age from 6 to 13, were in the back seat. She reportedly failed a sobriety test, but we don’t know whether she submitted to a breathalyzer test. A family member took custody of the children while the mother was arrested.

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