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Driving Drunk With Children in Vehicle a Serious Crime

by | Jun 6, 2013

A number of recent DUI arrests across the country have involved individuals who were reportedly driving intoxicated with minor passengers in the vehicle.

Our D.C. DUI defense lawyers know that these cases are especially serious because they can potentially result in a felony child endangerment charge, which will inevitably have an effect on child custody cases and possibly even your job.

D.C. also has stricter standards than most jurisdictions. In many places, additional penalties are tacked on if the driver is under the age of 14. Here, you will face additional penalties if the driver is under the age of 17.

D.C. Statute 50-2201.05(b)(1)(D) says that if a minor passenger is in the vehicle with you at the time you are arrested for DUI, you will be subject to an additional fine of between $500 and $1,000 per child. If the child is properly restrained, you’ll face a minimum five days of extra incarceration. If the child is not properly restrained, you’ll face an extra 10 days of incarceration – minimum.

If the child is hurt or if you were deemed to have been driving recklessly, you could face child separate endangerment charges.

These situations are often not as isolated as you might think. A number of grabbed headlines in recent weeks. Among those:

  • A 48-year-old Michigan man was arrested for both DUI and child endangerment after he was pulled over for vehicle equipment issues. There were four children in the vehicle and the driver subsequently failed a field sobriety test. Three empty vodka bottles were discovered on the floor of the truck. His blood-alcohol content later measured at 0.29 percent.
  • A 40-year-old Georgia woman was arrested on charges of DUI and child endangerment after she was found to have been driving erratically around 2 a.m. Officers said she was weaving in and out of lanes before she was stopped. When she was pulled over, a 7-year-old child was in the back seat, “jumping around,” and not restrained in a safety device.
  • A 41-year-old Ohio man was arrested in Florida after his three children – 9-year-old twin girls and an 11-year-old boy – jumped out of the back seat of his moving vehicle because they said they feared for their safety due to his erratic behavior and driving. The father reportedly did not stop when his children jumped out, suffering minor injuries as a result. The kids attempted to call him, but he reportedly did not answer. They walked back to a neighbor’s home, where police were called. The father was reportedly found several hours later. Officers said he failed a field sobriety test and when asked where his children were, he replied they were at home.
  • A California woman was arrested on felony charges of DUI, child endangerment and fleeing the scene of an accident, after she reportedly struck two vehicles while under the influence of prescription drugs. She was found a short time later, sleeping behind the wheel with her toddler daughter in her arms.

These cases are extreme, but it could happen following something as innocuous as heading home after a family dinner out where you’ve had a glass or two of wine. Given the potential fallout from charges like these, trust an attorney who has proven experience in defending D.C. DUI cases.

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