The Legal Impacts of Drinking and Driving with Children Present
Sometimes you have no other choice but to pick up your children after drinking. Consider this scenario: you and your spouse are out to enjoy an anniversary celebration meant to last all night. You went the extra measure to hire a babysitter for the evening. Perhaps you even left emergency contact information for local friends or family in the area in case of an emergency. After midnight, you get a dreaded phone call that one of your child is throwing up and has a fever and none of the emergency contacts are answering their phones. Luckily, you have only had a few alcoholic beverages, and you feel confident in your driving abilities enough to go to get them. However, on the return trip home with a car full of the smells of a sick child, you get pulled over by an officer having a bad night. The mixture of the odors in the car lead the police to believe you may be intoxicated and to top off the night, you fail the sobriety test, leading to a DUI. What happens next?
A Rise in Prevalence
There is growing trend of incidents involving DUI and minor-aged passengers. Alarmed by the increasing number of incidents, state lawmakers in many states created laws specifically surrounding drinking and driving with children present. In Illinois, the threshold for being a minor in this incident is 16. If convicted, the following penalties may apply in addition to standard DUI penalties, provided the child is unharmed:
- Six months in prison,
- An additional mandatory fine of $1,000,
- Twenty-five days of community service in a program benefiting children.
Even if your local law enforcement officer failed to add on an additional charge, the State’s Attorney who reviews the case nearly always adds on a charge of child endangerment. The law here includes children under the age of 18, meaning that if the child involved is 16 or 17, the DUI with a child is non-applicable, but child endangerment is still a possibility. According to Illinois Criminal Code (720 ILCS 5/12C-5), child endangerment occurs when someone:
- Permits the life or health of a child under the age of 18 to be endangered, or
- Causes a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child's life or health.
Do Not Fight This Alone
Charges such as these are severe and have potentially life-altering repercussions if handled incorrectly. You may have wanted to save time and money by not hiring a taxi, but the result was much more severe than a few dollars. Do not try to save money at the expense of your future by fighting it yourself. If you would like to have a risk-free conversation about your situation with a Lombard, IL DUI defense attorney, contact Stringini & Garvey, P.C. today by calling 630-834-9595. We proudly offer a free consultation to answer your questions and conveniently serve the areas of Glendale Heights, Lombard, Maywood, Bloomingdale, and all surrounding Chicagoland area. We look forward to helping you and your family get through this difficult situation.