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DUI with Child Passenger

Are You Facing Charges in Washington, DC or Alexandria, VA?

Both Alexandria, VA and Washington, D.C. perceive driving under the influence (DUI) with a child passenger as a serious offense. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2017, 118 children were killed nationwide while riding as a passenger in a motor vehicle when the driver had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over 0.08 percent. Further, child passengers riding in vehicles driven by intoxicated drivers are less likely to wear a seat belt, increasing the risk for injury or death in a crash. As a result, Alexandria, VA and DC punish those convicted of this offense very harshly with mandatory fines and jail times, to name some.

Arrested for DUI with a child passenger in DC or Alexandria, VA? Contact our defense lawyer at S.L. England, PLLC online or at (202) 759-2333.

Alexandria, VA Laws for DUI with Child Passenger

If you are convicted of DUI with a child passenger in Alexandria, VA, you will face fines and jail time based on your BAC at the time of the incident, plus enhanced penalties for having a minor under the age of 17 in your vehicle. At minimum, you will be fined at least $500 but no more than $1,000 and have a mandatory minimum jail sentence of five days. A second conviction carries an additional 80 hours of community service that benefits children in addition to fines and jail time. Keep in mind that these enhanced penalties are the same for all drivers, regardless of the relationship between the minor child and the driver.

DUI with Child Passenger in Washington, DC

Having a minor in the vehicle while driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered an aggravating factor in the District of Columbia, meaning enhanced penalties will be added to the initial DUI penalties imposed for this offense. If convicted of DUI with a child passenger in DC, you will get a 5-day mandatory minimum sentence for each minor that is properly restrained in an appropriate car seat, booster seat, or seat belt, or you will face a 10-day mandatory minimum sentence for each minor that is not properly restrained.

Child Abuse and Neglect

In Alexandria, VA, you can be charged with child abuse and neglect in addition to DUI for actions such as excessive speeding or failing to secure a young child in a car seat. If your actions show a reckless disregard for human life, you could be charged with an additional Class 6 felony, which carries a fine up to $2,500 and up to five years in prison.

If you are involved in an accident as a result of DUI and the child passenger suffers serious injuries, you could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries two to 10 years in prison and fines up to $100,000. A “serious injury” includes:

  • Disfigurement
  • Fracture
  • Severe burn
  • Severe laceration
  • Mutilation
  • Maiming
  • Life-threatening internal injuries

In Washington, DC, if you get a DUI with a child passenger charge, you may get accused of cruelty to children as well. The District of Columbia defines first-degree cruelty to children as a person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly tortures, beats, or otherwise willfully maltreats a child under 18 years of age or engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of bodily injury to a child, and thereby causes bodily injury. If convicted, you will be fined $10,000 and/or sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Second-degree cruelty to children is punishable by a $25,000 fine and/or 10 years in prison. It is defined as a person who intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:

  • Maltreats a child or engages in conduct which causes a grave risk of bodily injury to a child
  • Exposes a child, or aids and abets in exposing a child in any highway, street, field house, outhouse, or another place, with intent to abandon the child

Collateral Consequences

The consequences of a DUI with a child passenger conviction extend beyond jail time and fines. For instance, if you are facing a divorce, child custody negotiations, or trying to adopt a child, your conviction could affect your final divorce settlement, parenting plan, or your ability to adopt a child. This is because the court may view you as an unfit parent or a danger to your children.

In addition, Alexandria, VA and DC laws allow employers to perform background checks on candidates, so you may have trouble finding employment in either the private sector or government. Some professionals’ careers could be in jeopardy, especially if they work directly with children. Pilots, doctors, nurses, and lawyers are also at risk of losing their jobs because of a DUI with a child passenger conviction, and cannot become a Notary Public.

A felony DUI or child abuse and neglect conviction means that you cannot own or possess a firearm, get federal financial aid, vote, or serve on a jury until your civil rights are restored. A drug DUI with a child passenger conviction can also affect your ability to obtain federal financial aid. Further, if you are not a United States citizen, you may face detention, deportation, or be barred from citizenship or renewing your green card.

Possible Defenses

If you are charged with DUI with a child passenger and S.L. England, PLLC to defend you, our DUI attorney will review all details of your case, including the incident reports and the arresting officer’s dash and body camera footage, to ensure that you have the strongest defense possible.

After a DUI-related motor vehicle accident, especially if a child passenger was involved, the scene can be chaotic, and law enforcement may incorrectly identify you as the driver. If they did, we can argue that fact on your behalf. If you did not get into an accident but were accused of DUI with a child passenger, we will work to determine if the officer had a legal reason to stop your vehicle in the first place.

In the event that they did have a legal reason, officers must follow a precise chain of custody with any breath, blood, or urine samples you provide. If law enforcement and associated professionals do not follow and document this chain of custody correctly, the test results may not be valid, and your accusations may get reduced or dropped altogether.

Are You Facing DUI with a Child Passenger Charges in DC or Alexandria, VA?

DUI with a child passenger is a serious charge that can affect your life beyond jail time and fines. As such, the most important call you can make is to an experienced DUI defense attorney at S.L. England, PLLC. Our lawyer has the courtroom experience you need and can represent you in any Alexandria, VA or Washington, DC court.

Arrange a free consultation to learn more by calling (202) 759-2333 or contacting us online.

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