drinking and driving with child in the car, endangering child

Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car: What Are the Penalties?

Driving after consuming alcohol or using another impairing substance can be a serious offense. Indeed, even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is not at or above the legal limit of .08 percent, if you are impaired to the extent that your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is affected, you can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI).

A DUI charge is, in itself, very serious. However, certain actions can make a DUI offense–and the related penalties–even more severe. One of those offenses is committing a DUI with a child in the car. If you have been charged with driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, here’s what you need to know about the charge and related penalties.

Defining the Crime of Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

Not only is DUI a crime in Colorado, but doing so with a child in the car constitutes child abuse, per Colorado Revised Statute Section 18-6-401, which reads that a person commits abuse of a child when they:

  • Cause an injury to a child’s life or health; or
  • Permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s health.

This means that if you are stopped for DUI with a child in your vehicle, not only will you face DUI charges, but you could very well be charged with child abuse as well. As a note, a child is defined as a minor under the age of 16.

Potential Penalties for Driving Under the Influence with a Child in the Car

First, a review of the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or a combination of both, in Colorado:

  • A first-offense conviction could result in jail time of between five days and one year, a fine of between $600 and $1,000, a license revocation period of up to nine months, and the installation of an interlock ignition device for up to eight months.
  • A second- or third-offense conviction for a DUI offense is even more serious. A second- or third- offense could result in jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $1,500, an indefinite license revocation period, and the installation of an interlock ignition device of up to five years.

In addition to DUI penalties, you’ll also have to deal with penalties for child abuse should you be convicted of that charge.

If the child is not injured as a result of the DUI (i.e., the DUI offense does not result in a car accident and bodily injury to the child), then the offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and an incarceration period of up to one year.

If the child is injured a result of the DUI, the crime is considered a felony offense. If acting with criminal negligence, the crime is a Class 4 felony; when acting knowingly and recklessly, the offense is a Class 3 felony. This could mean up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.

The most serious offense is one in which driving under the influence results in the death of a child. Death caused by criminal negligence is a Class 3 felony; death caused as a result of reckless conduct is a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is penalized by prison time of up to 24 years and a fine of up to $1 million.

Why You Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged for DUI with a minor in the car, you could be looking at jail time, large fines, and a mark against you on your criminal record, which could limit your opportunities moving forward. What’s more, you could also face the loss of custody of or visitation time with your child. When so much is on the line, the wisest thing that you can do is to retain the counsel of a knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer with experience representing clients in cases like these.

At the offices of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, we are passionate about providing skilled, aggressive defense for our clients. If you are facing DUI or child abuse charges, don’t hesitate to call our law office for an initial free consultation and information about your defense options. Reach us today at 719-473-9099, visit our Colorado Springs office in person, or send us a confidential message using the intake form on our website.

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