DUI Child Endangerment in Washington State
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is always a bad thing to do, but especially if you have a child in the vehicle as well. Driving under the influence (DUI) can result in potentially catastrophic injuries and even death for you and anyone in the vehicle with you.
There is no excuse under the law for unnecessarily putting the life of a child at risk. And if you are arrested and charged with DUI with a minor under the age of 16 in your vehicle, you can also be charged with child endangerment. And it doesn’t matter whether the child is yours or someone else’s.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children under the age of 14 account for 24% of all traffic fatalities. Because of this, many states have responded by making drunk driving with a child in the vehicle subject to additional penalties. What’s more, some states will charge the offender with a separate crime of child endangerment under their child abuse statutes.
The Penalties For DUI Child Endangerment in WA State
In Washington, the typical first-time DUI conviction will be punished by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to one year. What’s more, you may be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle for some time after your license has been reinstated. Each subsequent conviction for DUI will then be subject to increasingly stiffer penalties.
An arrest for DUI with a minor under the age of 16 in your vehicle, can enhance the penalties you receive if you are convicted. In addition to the normal DUI charge, the district attorney can charge you with an enhancement of child endangerment.
Child endangerment can be summed up as putting a child in a situation where they can be hurt or subject to some sort of unnecessary suffering. Allegations of child endangerment are taken very seriously in Washington and can jeopardize your parental rights.
If convicted of DUI Child Endangerment, in addition to the penalties you will normally receive for a DUI conviction, you will also be facing:
- An additional 6 months of ignition interlock use; as well as
- A minimum of 1 day in jail and a fine of at least $1,000, for a first DUI conviction;
- A minimum of 5 days in jail and a fine of at least $2,000, for a second conviction; or
- A minimum of 10 days in jail and a fine of at least $3,000, for a third or fourth DUI conviction
Furthermore, if you are the child’s parent, guardian, legal custodian, sibling, or half-sibling, law enforcement must report your arrest on DUI charges to Child Protective Services (CPS), which may trigger an investigation against you for endangering a minor. Furthermore, if they suspect that the child is in danger, the officer has the discretion to take the child into custody for his or her safety.
Defending DUI Child Endangerment
Fortunately, a DUI charge, even with a child under the age of 16 in the car, is still defensible. If you can beat the underlying DUI charge, then the enhancement will be dismissed as well.
But this will all depend on a variety of factors including:
- Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest;
- The circumstances of your arrest; and
- Various other factors, including whether or not you have any previous arrests or convictions on your record.
The root of the problem, however, is the DUI charge. So, it is important to defend it vigorously to avoid any related and/or subsequent penalties and consequences.
Common defenses to a DUI include:
- Your blood alcohol level was not above the legal limit;
- Your blood alcohol level rose between the time of your stop and the time the blood alcohol concentration test was administered;
- There was a problem with the machine or the way the blood test was administered;
- Necessity or duress. Perhaps it was an emergency situation and you had to drive drunk in order to avoid more severe consequences.
An experienced DUI defense attorney will be able to effectively employ whichever defenses apply to your case and attack weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to obtain the most favorable outcome for your DUI charge.
Contact an Experienced DUI Attorney in Spokane, Washington
To ensure the best outcome, you need to be defended by an attorney who knows what it takes to successfully defend a DUI charge. You need an attorney who understands where the problems of proof lie in the prosecution’s case and who knows how to get the prosecution to listen to the facts and circumstances of your arrest.
If you have been charged with DUI Child Endangerment in Spokane, Washington or the surrounding communities, call Bugbee Law Offices at (509) 337-5082, or send us a message via our contact page to arrange a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable Spokane DUI attorney.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2016 Bugbee Law Offices, P.S.