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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.

choosing the right dui lawyer in colorado springs

Choosing the Right DUI Lawyer in Colorado Springs

Sometimes we make poor choices or are even victims of a stroke of terrible luck. According to MADD, 28.7 million people admitted that they’ve driven under the influence in 2017, which is more than the population of Texas.

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Colorado, this isn’t something you can sweep under the rug or take lightly. A DUI conviction can have lasting consequences. Not only will you end up with a criminal record and face some harsh penalties, but this could also impact your ability to get a job, find a place to live, go to school, and even retain custody of your children.

Why You Should Hire a DUI Attorney

Hiring an experienced DUI attorney comes with a variety of benefits. You’ll get qualified legal counsel on what to do and not to do, which includes what to say and what not to say as your case progresses. Your lawyer will also possess behind-the-scenes knowledge of the court system, know how to navigate complex legal situations, and have an understanding of criminal defense tactics and potential plea bargains.

If you decide to represent yourself, some of the complicated legal processes and procedures could be so confusing that you end up harming your case instead of helping it. Similarly, choosing a public defender doesn’t put you in the best position. These are trained attorneys, but they are also overworked and not always able to devote the time necessary to provide meaningful help on your case.

There are over 1.3 million active lawyers in the U.S. and over 21,000 attorneys in Colorado alone. Knowing this, how do you pick the right one? Fortunately, many DUI attorneys are willing to meet for a consultation to introduce themselves and discuss your case. This is your opportunity to conduct your own screening. Here are some of the areas to focus on as you look for the best DUI lawyer.

Experience and Background

When you meet with any DUI attorney, they are going to want to know about your situation, but it’s essential that you learn as much as possible about them as well. There are many types of lawyers, and you want one that has some experience handling your particular type of charges. A few questions that you can ask include:

  • How long have you been practicing criminal law?
  • How long have you been representing clients in DUI cases?
  • How often do you appear in the courthouse where my case will be heard?
  • How often do you negotiate plea deals versus take cases like this to trial?

Assessment of Your Case

Listen closely to the questions that the lawyer asks about your situation. During this assessment process, you can get an idea of their possible case strategy and your potential legal options. Find out what the attorney recommends based on the information you’ve provided. Ask about other factors that could impact the outcome of your case.

Case Management

Attorneys have different case management practices, and you want to hire one that suits your needs. Ask the attorneys you meet with if they will be the one working on your case or if it will be someone else. Find out how they will stay in contact with you and how long you should expect to wait for a response to questions.

Legal Fees

DUI cases aren’t cheap, but it would be more expensive to ignore these charges. Ask the attorney how they bill for their services so that you understand the arrangement. Also, find out about payment terms and forms of payment accepted.

References

If you find a firm that rises to the top of your list, get confirmation of their excellence through references. You can check online sources for ratings and reviews as well as ask the attorney for some references.

Speak with a Qualified Colorado Springs DUI Attorney

If you’ve been charged with DUI in the Colorado Springs area, there is a lot at stake. A skilled criminal defense attorney is your best chance at achieving a favorable outcome. At Anderson & Carnahan, Attorneys at Law, we invite you to meet with us to discuss your situation.

We have provided experienced and aggressive legal representation to clients for over 50 years. Whether you hire our firm or not, we urge you to work with someone who knows Colorado DUI laws and the most effective defense strategies to mitigate the situation as much as possible.

Beware of any attorney that uses the word “guarantee.” Check credible sources when hiring an attorney. We offer every client a free case evaluation so that you can decide for yourself whether or not we are the right firm for you. Contact us today at (719) 473-9099 to schedule your appointment.

Criminal Attorney in Colorado

Pulled Over for DUI & Have a Gun in the Car

With more police shootings than ever before, the idea of having a gun on your person when confronted by a police officer certainly justifies feelings of unease. Indeed, police officers today are often very sensitive–and for good reason–to the word ‘gun,’ and those who brandish a gun in front of a police officer may very well be risking their lives. Which is why if you are driving in Colorado and have a gun in your vehicle and are pulled over by a Colorado police officer, knowing how to navigate the situation in a way that is both safe and legal is critical.

Here is a look at the laws regarding having a gun in the car in Colorado, the duty to inform an officer of possession if pulled over, when a police officer can search your car, prohibited possession of a weapon, and what to do if you are arrested for a DUI (or other offense) and have a gun in the vehicle:

Carrying a Firearm in the Car in Colorado – Is it Legal?

The first thing you should know about carrying a gun in your vehicle in Colorado is that assuming you have a license to possess a firearm, having the firearm within your vehicle is perfectly legal. Section 18-12-105 of Colorado Criminal Code states that it is not an offense for a person to carry a firearm on or about his person if the person is within a private automobile and is a person who carries a weapon for lawful protection of themselves while traveling.

Of course, if you are not licensed to have a firearm in your possession, then this is an entirely different scenario and situation which may result in criminal penalties.

Do I Have to Tell the Officer I Have a Gun?

In Colorado, there is no duty to inform an officer that you have a firearm within your vehicle if you are pulled over. However, while you are not legally required to tell the officer that you have a gun upon being pulled over, doing so may be advised, especially if the gun is on your person and you are asked to step out of the vehicle and/or you are in illegal possession of the firearm.

Rather than saying, “I have a gun,” which could be threatening to the officer and dangerous for you, you should inform the officer that you maintain a firearm license and currently have a firearm within the vehicle or on your person.

Can a Police Officer Search My Vehicle?

A police officer cannot lawfully search your vehicle in Colorado unless they have probable cause to do so or you give them permission. If either criterion is satisfied, you should certainly inform the officer of the firearm in your vehicle, as they will discover it on their own otherwise.

Illegal Possession of a Firearm and DUI

While it is perfectly legal to have a gun with your vehicle in Colorado if you are sober, if you are under the influence of an intoxicating liquor or substance, you are in violation of Colorado’s legal firearm possession laws (CRS 18-12-106). This means that if you are pulled over for a DUI and you are impaired, you have not only breached the state’s drinking and driving laws, but also firearm possession laws.

Informing an Officer of Firearm if Pulled Over for DUI

If you are pulled over for a DUI and you have a firearm in your vehicle, you should comply with an officer’s requests to the extent that you are required to do so (e.g., provide your name, get out of the vehicle if the officer asks you to, and generally remain cooperative). You are not required to submit to blood or breath alcohol testing, although your refusal to do so will immediately result in administrative penalties, including a one-year license suspension. You should inform the officer that you have a firearm, as if you are intoxicated, you are in illegal possession of the gun.

Hire a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges for driving under the influence and illegal possession of a firearm, your first step following an arrest should be to hire a skilled Colorado criminal defense attorney. At the law office of Anderson & Carnahan Attorneys at Law, our lawyers have experience handling cases like yours and will work hard to defend you against charges and protect your best interests. Please call us today for a consultation at 719-473-9099, visit our Colorado Springs office location in person, or send us a secure and confidential message through our online contact form.