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What Happens if I Was Charged with a DUI While My Child Was in the Car?

Feb 11, 2023, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, DUI
Child sleeping in the back of a car

Getting pulled over for driving while under the influence can be a harrowing experience, but having a child in the car makes it even worse. The consequences of getting caught drinking and driving with a child in the vehicle can be severe.

However, there are possible defenses, and it’s possible to get charges reduced with the help of a Michigan DUI defense lawyer.

How Does Michigan Define DUIs?

In Michigan, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher if you are over 21. If you are under 21, you cannot drive with a BAC of .02 or greater. Michigan also defines high-BAC or “super drunk” as anyone with a BAC of .17 or higher.

You can be arrested for driving with a BAC exceeding any of these limits. However, you may also be arrested and charged with a DUI if you exhibit signs of impairment while operating a motor vehicle, no matter your BAC.

What Happens if a Child Is There?

Drunk driving with a child in the car may be considered child endangerment. Child endangerment is when a person “knowingly or intentionally commits an act likely to cause serious physical or mental harm to a child.” This applies whether harm occurs to the child or not. This is a criminal offense that can result in harsh penalties.

What Penalties Exist for Driving while Endangering Children?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 29% of young drivers 15 to 20 years old killed in crashes had BACs of .01 g/dL or higher in 2020. You will face penalties for OWI with child endangerment whether the child was related to you. Penalties increase for subsequent offenses.

For a first offense, you will be charged with a misdemeanor and face:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to one year in jail
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Community service
  • Up to two years of probation

For a second offense within seven years of the first offense, you will get a felony charge and face:

  • Up to $5,000 in fines
  • Up to five years in prison
  • Revocation or suspension of your driver’s license
  • Community service
  • Up to five years of probation

If the driver is under the age of 21 and they have a minor in the car, they can still face significant penalties, including:

  • Up to $500 in fines
  • Up to 93 days in jail
  • 60 days of community service
  • Up to two years of probation

Child Protective Services (CPS) may get involved because Michigan law enforcement must notify them of any criminal offense that puts a child in danger.

Are There Defenses Against DUIs with Children Involved?

Defenses against DUI with a child include the common defenses used in a normal DWI situation. You can challenge the BAC test and the evidence used to pull you over in the first place. However, it is best to negotiate with the prosecutor and make a plea deal in many of these cases.

If this is a first offense, you can likely avoid jail time or even plea your charge down to a lesser offense. You may even be able to take part in a suspended sentence program that allows you to get help for drug or alcohol abuse.

Working with an attorney who can help you navigate this part of the legal arena is essential. The judge and prosecutor will likely try to pin child endangerment on you. You shouldn’t deal with the situation alone. Instead, allow an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your rights aggressively.

Call the Davis Law Group for Your DUI Defense

OWI with child endangerment is a serious charge in Michigan that can land you in jail. You may also face problems with CPS when law enforcement reports the situation to the government agency.

To avoid the issues you will face, call attorney Maurice Davis today at (313) 818-3238 or use the online contact form to reach out.