Understanding DUI Child Endangerment in Georgia
In the State of Georgia, if you drive impaired with a child under the age of 14 in your vehicle, you can face not only a DUI charge but also an additional charge of DUI Child Endangerment. A separate endangerment offense applies for each child in the vehicle. Each charge carries separate penalties. The consequences can be devastating, both in terms of the penalties and because of the long-term adverse impact on your life. For anyone arrested for DUI and DUI Child Endangerment, representation by an experienced Georgia Defense lawyer is essential.
Georgia Law on DUI Child Endangerment
In Georgia, DUI Child Endangerment is a separate offense from Child Endangerment. The crime of DUI Child Endangerment occurs when a person is convicted of driving under the influence with children in the vehicle. For the crime of child endangerment, if the children were under the age of 14, the State has met the burden necessary to prove child endangerment.
A person charged with DUI in Georgia faces an additional charge of DUI Child Endangerment for every child under age 14 in the vehicle at the time of arrest. Each charge counts as a separate offense and has separate penalties. As a result, you may face multiple DUI charges from a single arrest incident. The charges are interconnected, so if you are convicted of DUI, you will be convicted of the endangerment charges.
The first and second DUI child endangerment offenses are misdemeanors that can result in a fine of $1,000 (first offense) or of $1,000 to $5,000 (second offense), and up to 12 months in jail (first or second offense). The third offense is a felony that carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. These penalties are in addition to the penalties for the DUI charge itself.
Under Georgia’s framework for escalating penalties for successive DUI charges, each DUI Child Endangerment counts as an additional DUI offense. For example, if you are arrested for DUI with three children in the car, you will have four separate DUI charges. Those multiple charges count separately for license suspension purposes and for habitual violator purposes. The penalties — and the consequences beyond the penalties — add up very quickly.
In any situation, DUI Child Endangerment charges adversely affect your life, just as DUI charges do. But for anyone whose work involves caring for children or depends on the ability to drive, the consequences can be far-reaching and devastating. Teachers, daycare and healthcare providers, salespeople, truck and bus drivers, and many others may lose their job and livelihood as the result of a DUI Child Endangerment conviction. In addition, a child endangerment charge may invite a petition to modify custody arrangements. DFCS may also be notified and become involved. The ancillary issues associated with a DUI child endangerment definitely complicates the situation.
Defending Against DUI Child Endangerment
Our seasoned defense attorneys have a number of ways to defend against DUI Child Endangerment charges, along with the accompanying DUI charges. Because of the potentially severe consequences of a conviction, we always aggressively defend against these charges and work hard to get the best possible result for our client.
As with any criminal offense, the prosecutor must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. The arresting officer must have a valid reason for stopping you, and must follow all the required procedures for a traffic stop, road block (if applicable), and alcohol tests. We scour the evidence to find any indication that law enforcement did not comply with the legal requirements or that the facts do not support the charge.
Challenging the DUI arrest can undermine all the charges in a child endangerment case, so that is usually part of the defense strategy in a particular case. There are numerous rules that police must comply with in conducting traffic stops and blood and breath tests. Finding non-compliance with a single rule can completely undercut the prosecution’s case. Many tactics are available for investigating a case. Our lawyers pursue every avenue as part of your defense.
In addition to defending based on the evidence (or lack thereof) and police procedures, our lawyers know how to negotiate with prosecutors to get a favorable result for a defendant. Our extensive experience, knowledge of the law, and familiarity with local courts, prosecutors, and the Georgia criminal process provide us with a great advantage in defending a client against any DUI charge. Our practice emphasis on DUI and related charges also benefits our clients.
Talk with an Experienced Georgia DUI Defense Lawyer
Our criminal and DUI defense lawyers at The McCoy Law Firm, LLC, have decades of experience representing defendants facing DUI charges in northwest Georgia. If you need representation on DUI and DUI Child Endangerment charges, please contact Criminal & DUI Law of Georgia, so we can begin working on your case right away.
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