In Virginia, Driving Under the Influence (DUI) with a Child Passenger is 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 Content (BAC) over 0.08 percent. Child passengers in vehicles driven by intoxicated drivers are less likely to wear a seat belt, increasing the risk for injury or death in a crash. Virginia treats this offense very seriously with mandatory fines and jail times.
If you have been charged with DUI with a Child Passenger, contact S.L. England, PLLC. for a free legal consultation.
If you are convicted of DUI with a Child Passenger in Virginia, you face fines and jail time based on your BAC at the time of the incident, plus enhanced penalties for having a minor under age 17 in the vehicle with you. 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.
These enhanced penalties are the same for all drivers, regardless of the relationship between the minor child and the driver.
Child Abuse and Neglect
In some cases, you can be charged with Child Abuse and Neglect in addition to DUI. If your actions show a reckless disregard for human life, you could be charged with an additional Class 6 Felony. This carries a fine up to $2,500 and up to five years in prison. Actions such as excessive speeding or failing to secure a young child in a car seat may lead to Child Abuse and Neglect charges on top of your DUI.
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" is:
- Severe burn
- Severe laceration
- Life-threatening internal injuries
The consequences of a DUI with a Child Passenger extend beyond jail time and fines.
If you are facing a divorce, child custody negotiations, or trying to adopt a child, your DUI with a Child Passenger could affect your final divorce settlement, parenting plan, or your ability to adopt. The Court may view you as an unfit parent or a danger to your children.
Virginia law allows employers to perform background checks on candidates, so you may have trouble finding employment in either the private sector or the government. For some professionals, your career could be in jeopardy, especially if you 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 you cannot become a Notary Public.
A Felony DUI or Child Abuse and Neglect conviction mean that you cannot own or possess a firearm. You will not be able to vote or serve on a jury until your civil rights are restored. Incarcerated felons cannot get federal financial aid. A DUI-Drug with a Child Passenger can also affect your ability to obtain federal financial aid.
People who are not United States citizens may face detention or deportation. You may be barred from citizenship or renewing your green card.
If you are charged with DUI with a Child Passenger, your attorney will review all details of your case, including the dash and body camera footage, to ensure that you have the strongest defense.
Law enforcement must have a valid reason to stop your vehicle. Your attorney can review incident reports and video to determine if the officer had a legal reason to stop your vehicle.
After a motor vehicle accident, the scene can be chaotic, and law enforcement may incorrectly identify you as the driver.
Law enforcement 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.
Are You Facing DUI with a Child Passenger Charges in D.C. or Virginia?
DUI with a Child Passenger is a serious charge that can affect your life beyond jail time and fines. The most important call you can make is to an experienced DUI defense attorney at S.L. England, PLLC. Our attorneys have the courtroom experience you need and we can represent you in any Virginia or Washington, D.C. court. Call (202) 489-0720 or contact us online today.