DUI and Child Endangerment
In Georgia, you may be charged with additional offenses if police believe that you endangered the life of a child while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Child endangerment is a separate crime, but may be charged alongside DUI if you operate a motor vehicle under the influence with children in the car. According to state law, a child is anyone under the age of 14. These charges are taken very seriously in court; if you are facing DUI and child endangerment allegations, talk to an attorney from the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14. In 2009, 14% of these fatalities were caused by DUI.. These statistics may surprise you and because of them, the United States justice system is extremely serious about prosecuting and punishing drivers who endanger or kill children. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, child abuse occurs when an adult places a child “under such improper control as to endanger his or her morals or health.”
Operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not only dangerous, but may be considered abusive. However, being arrested for driving under the influence and endangering a child and being convicted are not the same. At the firm, we understand that child abuse and endangerment is never okay. Convicting innocent people of crime’s they didn’t commit is wrong, too. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping people stand up for their legal rights in court. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, don’t give up; talk to an attorney from the firm today to see what we can do for your case.
Atlanta DUI Lawyer for Child Endangerment Charges
Why is driving under the influence with children in the vehicle considered more offense than a regular DUI? On the one hand, driving under the influence endangers everyone on the road – not just passengers. However, children are unable to make decisions about their well-being. A child cannot refuse to get into a vehicle with an impaired driver; he/she may not even understand the circumstances surrounding a DUI.
Additionally, intoxicated drivers are less likely to care for the child properly once they are in the vehicle. For example, an impaired driver may forget to fasten a child’s seatbelt or put him/her in a car seat. Not only will the child’s life be put in danger by the diver’s inability to react to emergency situations or operate the vehicle safely, the child may not be properly protected in the event of a wreck. Because of this, the court considers driving under the influence with a child in the car a special offense – more serious than simply operating a vehicle while impaired.
Leandra’s Law: DUI and Child Endangerment in the U.S.
In 2009, New York passed a law that made driving impaired with a child in the vehicle a felony. Today, this law is considered the model for DUI child endangerment laws across the United States. Three other states have adopted felony laws like Leandra’s Law: Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas. Although Georgia does not have a specific law like New York, a DUI with child endangerment conviction may carry severe penalties.
Technically, child endangerment is a separate offense from driving while impaired. In Georgia, your first and second child endangerment convictions will be counted as misdemeanors, punishable by 12 months of incarceration. You may also be fined $1,000. Your third offense will be a felony – punishable by three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. According to Georgia law, this offense can never be merged with impaired driving; they must be charged separately. For the purposes of prosecuting and sentencing, child endangerment and DUI charges will be handled separately.
The Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson can help!
At the firm, we have more than 18 years of experience exclusively handling DUI cases. We are serious about helping people get the legal assistance they need. We have settled more than 4,600 DUI cases and are ready to help yours. Not sure if your case is worth taking to court? Call us anyway! We will schedule a free case evaluation to help you understand you legal rights and options. Whether this is your first DUI charge or you have multiple offenses on your record, we can help you decide to go to trial or take a plea bargain. Don't give up! Call an attorney from the Law Offices of Richard S. Lawson today to get an enthusiastic and aggressive DUI defense lawyer on your side.