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While DUI laws vary from state to state, most -- if not all -- states treat DUIs more seriously if the driver has a minor in the car while driving under the influence. A woman in West Virginia, for example, who was recently arrested for a DUI with her 18 month old child in the car, is now facing charges for child neglect for creating risk of injury, which is a felony.
She's also been charged with driving under the influence with an unemancipated minor in the vehicle. As can be seen from this woman's arrest, getting a DUI with a child in the car can result in more serious legal consequences than driving alone or with an adult in the car.
DUI charges and penalties generally vary depending on the circumstances. For example, if you have prior convictions within a particular period of time, you may be facing a felony DUI charge. This is also true if bodily injury results from driving under the influence. Another factor that can lead to elevating a DUI charge is having a child in the car. As can be expected, aggravated DUIs will have more serious penalties, and can sometimes elevate a DUI that's usually a misdemeanor to a felony.
It's the responsibility of parents, caregivers, legal guardians, and custodians to ensure a child's well-being. And, a negligent or intentional act that causes a child to be in danger of mental or physical harm can result in charges of child abuse or endangerment. It's not a surprise that driving under the influence is conduct that can be considered child endangerment. Thus, in addition to more serious DUI charges, driving drunk with a child in the car can also lead to charges of child abuse or endangerment. It's also possible that being charged with a DUI when children are present can lead to an investigation by child protective services.
A good rule of thumb is to never drive drunk, especially if you have children with you. And, if you do end up getting arrested for a DUI, whether there are kids in the car or not, it's a good idea to get in touch with a skilled DUI attorney near you.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.