Anytime you get a DUI, it’s important to consider your legal options. The ramifications can be very serious. For instance, the mandatory minimum license suspension for a first DUI is nine months. Many people who are arrested end up spending time behind bars and paying thousands of dollars in fines.
But all of that is just for a misdemeanor DUI, and it’s very important to understand that other factors can make this crime more serious. One potential aggravating factor is if you had a minor in the car with you at the time. If that child suffered an injury in the crash, you can then be charged with a felony DUI.
The idea behind this is simply that driving with a child in the car subjects them to a certain level of risk, so the penalties are higher.
Why would this happen?
You may think that would be very easy to avoid this sort of charge because you would never drive while you were impaired and had your kids in the car anyway. But it can be much easier to get this type of charge than you may think.
For instance, maybe your family went out to dinner and you had a couple of drinks. You don’t feel like you’re that intoxicated, and it’s embarrassing to say that you don’t think you should drive home. So the whole family gets back in the car and you head for the house, where you roll through a stop sign and cause an accident. All of a sudden, your situation is very precarious, even though you never intended for things to get this far.
This can also be an issue for young people who drink. For instance, someone may be 21 years old, but they may still spend time with their high school friends when they’re home from college, such as when they come back for summer vacation. If one of their friends is 17 years old and they’re caught driving while intoxicated, they technically have a minor in the car with them. This can make it more serious than if the exact same thing had happened but they had been driving around with their college friends, who are at least 18 years old.
What can you do
If you find yourself facing serious charges and your future hangs in the balance, carefully consider all of your legal defense options.