All over the US, states take a strict stance against drunk driving. However, that stance becomes even stricter when children are involved. Child endangerment drunk driving laws in the US are quite harsh. Find out how the states handle drunk driving with children and how you can fight it.
Child Endangerment Drunk Driving Laws: An Overview
In the US, every state has laws against drunk driving. However, only some states have drunk driving laws that involve child endangerment. There are 47 states have drunk driving laws specific to child endangerment. In those states, drunk drivers can face additional charges. If an individual drives drunk with a child in the car, he faces extra charges.
What is Child Endangerment?
In general, child endangerment occurs when an adult puts a child in harm’s way. Driving drunk with a child in the car meets the definition of endangerment. Your actions as a caregiver put your child at risk. For this reason, many states believe that the crime is worse than just drunk driving.
It’s worth noting that child endangerment charges can occur in any state. Four states do not have specific child endangerment drunk driving laws. However, a prosecutor in those states could charge you with child endangerment and drunk driving. The charge is an additional crime.
The Need for These Laws
Between 2000 and 2009, over 2,000 young passengers of drunk drivers were killed. Those young passengers were under 15 years of age. Often, the drivers neglected to buckle in their passengers. Only about 18% of drunk drivers restrain their passengers. Their dangerous driving and lack of child safety make a deadly combination. With so many young lives at risk, lawmakers saw the need for change.
Drunk driving accidents are particularly lethal. When a child is in the car with a drunk driver, the risks are high. And it seems as if laws prevent these accidents. According to the CDC, there is a link between DUI child passenger deaths and a lack of child endangerment laws.
Like other drunk driving laws, child endangerment DUI laws vary by state. There are a few key differences in the wording of the laws. For one, the age of the passenger varies. In some states, the child needs to be under the age of 16 for child endangerment to occur. However, states like Rhode Island require the passenger to be under 13.
Another difference in the law is the age of the driver. In many states, the driver must be over the age of 18 for child endangerment to occur. A driver under 18 could be guilty of a DUI. However, he would not be guilty of a child endangerment DUI.
The penalty for breaking the child endangerment drunk driving laws also vary. For example, New York requires first-time offenders to serve up to four years in prison. The crime is a felony that can follow you around for life. In Tennessee, the penalty could be as much as 15 years in jail. It all depends on the severity of the accident.
Other important factors include prior offenses and the BAC level at the time of the incident. Some states specify certain BAC levels in their child endangerment drunk driving laws. Higher levels could come with harsher punishments. If you want more details, you should research the child endangerment DUI laws of your state.
Facing Child Endangerment DUI Charges
If you find yourself facing child endangerment DUI charges, then you need a lawyer. In Rhode Island, the penalty is harsh. You could face imprisonment for as much as one year. Any driver over 18 and passenger under 13 fits the requirements for a child endangerment DUI. The penalty is in addition to any fines or jail time that you receive for your DUI. Other factors that matter include the following:
- Your blood alcohol content at the time of your arrest
- Whether or not your passenger was killed
- The severity of the accident and injuries from the accident
- Prior offenses, or lack thereof
- Your legal representation
- The judge who hears your case
In Rhode Island, judges take DUIs that involve children quite seriously. You could find yourself facing jail time and a felony conviction. With a conviction on your record, you could face many challenges. Long after you serve your time, you could have trouble finding work. You could also experience difficulty finding housing. It’s important to find a lawyer who can fight the charges.
Beating the Charges
There are several ways to beat drunk driving charges. However, they all require the expertise of an experienced lawyer. Only your lawyer can come up with a successful defense for your charges. He might be able to convince a judge to dismiss the charges. In other cases, he might be able to reduce your penalty. It all depends on the specifics of your situation. Contact us to speak with a lawyer today.