Driving drunk is never a good idea. Driving drunk with your child in the car? Unthinkable. Unfortunately, adults do this every day and thankfully most get home okay. A really outrageous statistic shows that in 2014, 20 percent of all traffic fatalities that were alcohol-related involved children under the age of 14. Not only does drinking impair your driving, it impairs your decision-making abilities– you know, the decision you make to drive drunk with children in the car.
Imagine taking your family to a farm winery or local farm brewery and spending the day. You love bringing the kids because there is room to run around — but even more important, you can drink beer or wine and not have to worry about paying a sitter. At the end of day, after drinking the entire afternoon, you load up the kids and head home. Does this sound realistic? It absolutely happens all the time at farm wineries and breweries and these venues are becoming more and more popular every year.
States are responding to this high fatality rate of children dying at the hands of drunk drivers by increasing penalties to the DUI laws if a child is in the car when stopped while driving under the influence. Some states use child abuse laws in addition to drunk driving charges. At this point the DUI is now child endangerment.
Your blood alcohol content will determine what level of DUI you are charged with. If your BAC is below .08 percent you can still get a DUI charge but you may be able to plea bargain to a lesser charge like reckless driving. However, if your blood alcohol content of over two times the legal limit you could be charged with aggravated or extreme DUI.
Having a minor in the car when charged with a DUI will not only get you a higher DUI penalty, but the court will add child cruelty or child endangerment charges. The penalties for these aggravated charges will be pretty severe, taking what would usually be misdemeanor and taking it up to a felony DUI. The penalties for a felony DUI conviction can sometimes carry long prison sentences. Worse yet, if a child dies as a result of your DUI accident, you could be charged with murder. The court declares that the driver acted extremely recklessly without caring about the risk they were taking to human life.
No day at a winery or brewery is worth risking the life of anyone in your family, and especially not the life of a child. If by some unfortunate chance, you are facing a charge of DUI with minor children in the car, contact an DUI attorney with experience in DUI cases immediately. If no one was injured while you were driving under the influence with your children in the car, count your blessings and be thankful you were given a second chance to never expose your family to the risk of being in the car when you have been drinking again.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from the Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn for their insight into DUI law.