The state of Georgia takes a very tough stance against drunk driving, and an even tougher stance against drunk driving with children in a vehicle. As such, if there was a child age 14 or under in the car when you were arrested for driving under the influence in Atlanta, you will charged with Child Endangerment in addition to DUI. If you are in this situation, the additional penalties you face and the serious nature of this crime can feel very overwhelming, but please do not resign yourself to believing that because you were charged with these crimes, you will be convicted of them.
Endangering a Child is in a completely separate classification of criminal acts from driving under the influence. If you are found guilty of both charges, you will face separate penalties. The maximum penalty for both DUI and Child Endangerment includes 12 months in jail and a fine of $1,000. Therefore, if a driver is charged with a first offense for both of these crimes, the maximum punishment would be a combined 24 months in jail and $2,000 in fines. However, for a first offense, a judge will often consider the circumstances of the case and if appropriate, give a sentence that is more in line with the minimum punishment, which is often a term of probation rather than imprisonment.
The consequences of a conviction of Child Endangerment can reach far beyond the courtroom for some. Teachers, child care workers, and others who work directly with children can be very negatively impacted by a conviction of this nature. Also, these charges could impact someone involved in family court currently or in the future. A conviction of Child Endangerment can have a great impact on a claim of child custody or adoption.
The consequences are very severe because the law governing drunk driving was created to protect the general public from impaired drivers who could cause great harm. Children are viewed as the most vulnerable population under the law, and therefore require additional protection. There are several statutes governing the safety of a child in a motor vehicle, including seat belt and car seat requirements. The addition of Child Endangerment to DUI charges further seeks to protect children from harm or serious accidents. While these charges are serious, and no matter how complex your case may seem, please give me a call. We will discuss exactly what happened in your case and develop a plan to present the most effective legal defense.