Most crimes involving children invoke the harshest punishments by the court system, and jail time is practically guaranteed. An arrest for drunk driving with a child in the car is no exception. If you are charged with a DUI involving a child passenger, you need to call a lawyer as soon as possible for your best chance at avoiding a prison sentence and many other penalties.
What Qualifies as Child Endangerment?
In general, child endangerment is any act that puts a child at risk of harm to his/her well-being, including his/her mental and physical health. The child does not have to be injured to qualify as child endangerment. A substantial chance of an injury is enough to be found guilty. A lack of intent to harm the child is also not enough to protect you from a conviction. There are some mistakes that the State of Louisiana finds to be severe enough for you to be charged with child endangerment.
Child Endangerment Charges with a DUI Arrest
The Louisiana Code has a specific “Child Endangerment Law” that pertains directly to DUI cases. The law states that a person will be convicted of child endangerment if the child was 12 years old or younger when you were driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with the child as a passenger. This law extends to the drunken operation of boats, aircraft, motorcycles and any other mode of transportation.
If you are convicted of a DUI with a child passenger, your prison sentence cannot be suspended. This means that you are guaranteed jail time as a result of the child endangerment charge. If this was your third DUI offense, fourth DUI offense or more, you will serve a minimum of 1 year in prison with a likely possibility of a 10 year sentence. There is no felony or misdemeanor classifications for drinking and driving crimes involving children. Time in prison is a certainty unless skilled attorneys like Bates and McMillin fight for your rights.
Additional Penalties for a DWI with a Child in the Vehicle
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the car has more consequences than just guaranteed jail time. Probation is often included as part of the punishment, and you may have to pay fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. Plea bargains for lesser sentences are also harder to come by as crimes involving children are particularly unfavorable to judges and juries.
Arguably the most upsetting consequence, you may be stripped of your parental rights if you face a child endangerment conviction even if this arrest was a first offense. You could lose physical custody of your child and only receive visitation. If you are a single parent, the Court may appoint a new guardian for your child or put your child under the care of a child service agency.
Only a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Can Fight a Child Endangerment Conviction
When child endangerment is connected to a DUI arrest, your only defense is to fight the DUI charge. Attorneys James Bates and Robert McMillin went the extra mile to receive additional training in DUI law. Our lawyers are trained to identify errors in the police officer’s report as well as any possible mistakes in the blood and urine testing performed in the State’s lab. Our legal team can also pokes holes in your field sobriety test or breathalyzer results.
Don’t risk jail time, fines and the loss of your parental rights due to a child endangerment conviction. Call our office now to schedule your appointment with some of the top DUI lawyers in all of Louisiana.