Transporting a Minor While Under the Influence (DUI)
Getting a DUI in Virginia typically comes with hefty penalties, which may include thousands of dollars in fines, community service, license suspension, and the possibility of time in jail. If your DUI also involved an injury auto accident, you may be looking at a civil lawsuit for monetary damages and the other person’s pain and suffering.
If you’re arrested for a DUI while there is a minor child in the vehicle, the penalties may be enhanced. Therefore, it’s important to retain a qualified Virginia DUI attorney as soon as you are arrested so you can have the best defense possible.
Enhancement of Penalties for DUI with Minor in the Vehicle
The Code of Virginia, Section 18.2-270, Penalty for Driving while Intoxicated; Subsequent Offense; Prior Conviction, has a specific subsection that addresses penalties for those arrested for DUI with a child in the vehicle.
Section 18.2-270(D) notes that in addition to any penalties set forth in Section 16.1-278.9, any person convicted of DUI committed while transporting a person 17 years of age or younger shall be (i) fined an additional amount between $500 and $1,000 and (ii) sentenced to a mandatory jail sentence of five days or more.
If there is a second conviction of DUI with child endangerment, the offender will also have to complete 80 hours of community service on top of the additional fines and jail time.
Possibility to be Charged with Child Abuse and Neglect
This is where the potential penalties get really serious. In some instances, a driver may be charged under Virginia Code Section 18.2-371.1(B) for transporting a minor under 17 while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This section notes that any parent, guardian, or party responsible for the minor child can be guilty of a Class 6 felony if the willful act or omission was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for the child’s life.
A Class 6 felony carries a sentence of one to five years in prison, or up to one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. As this is a felony, this also comes with a loss of civil rights, including the right to vote, own a firearm, serve on a jury, or run for office.
DUIs involving injury collisions, especially those where the child is injured, can carry the stiffest penalties. You may lose custody or visitation rights as well.
Statistics of DUIs Involving Children in the Vehicle
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), in 2013, a total of 1,149 children aged 14 or younger were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Out of that total, 200, or 17%, were the result of alcohol-impaired driving crashes. 121 (61%) of those 200 deaths were occupants in a vehicle where the driver had a BAC level of 0.08 or greater, and another 29 children, or 15%, were pedestrians or bicyclists who were struck by a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or greater.
Retaining a Virginia DUI Attorney
Criminal charges of DUI that involve an allegation of child endangerment require the expertise of the best DUI lawyers in Virginia. Our Leesburg team at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC are skilled at all types of DUI defense cases, even those that have aggravated circumstances like this. Being charged with a DUI child endangerment doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be convicted, which is why it’s important to have a strong advocate on your side. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.