Facing a DWAI or DUI charge in Colorado is a stressful experience on its own, but when you are adding passengers into the mix, it can get even worse, particularly when the passengers in question are children.
When you have children in a car during a DUI arrest in Colorado, it can lead to a charge or multiple charges of child abuse, in addition to any charges for driving while under the influence. The child abuse charge, alongside the DUI, usually results from the child being put into a situation that poses a real threat to their well-being.
It’s important to keep in mind that you do not have to be related by blood to the children in the car to be charged with child abuse. Simply having the children in the car at the time of the arrest is enough to be charged with child abuse. In this state, anyone age 15 and under is considered a child as far as the law goes.
If you have a child in your vehicle and are found driving under the influence, there are a few different charges you could be facing in connection with the incident.
The most commonly seen charge in this type of situation is the Class 2 misdemeanor. This applies when a driver has knowingly acted recklessly by driving under the influence with kids in the car but did not injure the child in any way. If there is more than one child in the car, you may be charged with one count for each child, leading to penalties across multiple charges.
The next potential charge is a class 3 misdemeanor. This is used when a person acts with what law enforcement views as “gross negligence,” but no children were injured as a result.
If a child has been injured or killed, the applicable penalties increase immensely. It’s a Class 2 felony when a person knowingly acts recklessly and a child dies. If they act with gross negligence and/or the children had severe injuries as a result of the driver’s behavior, it’s a Class 3 felony charge.
In addition to the penalties associated with child abuse and Colorado DWAI or DUI, a driver convicted of driving under the influence with children in the car will also likely face a complete investigation by the state’s child welfare division. A conviction for child abuse can also lead to other issues, such as the loss of a job, licensing issues and family law problems, including visitation and custody issues.
Know your rights
The penalties for being charged with a DWAI or DUI with children in the car are very serious in Colorado, and they will impact your life now and for years to come. You could lose access to the children involved, face jail time and fines, and end up with a record that will haunt you down the line. To protect your rights and your future, contact an experienced lawyer in Denver, CO for help right now.
Thank you to the experts at Richard J. Banta, PC, for their insight into DUIs and the law.