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When DUIs and Child Endangerment Mix

By Timothy Bussey on April 12, 2021

It is the parents’ responsibility to provide their child with transportation. However, driving your kid to soccer practice could end with you being accused of child endangerment.

When you are charged with a DUI and your child was in the car, whether you were drinking or not, then you could be facing years, even decades, in prison.

When It Becomes Child Abuse

No parent ever wants to be accused to abusing their child. However, under Colorado law, there are certain scenarios that are considered abusive, even if you never lay a hand on your child. In Colorado, you are committing child abuse if:

  • You cause injury to a child
  • You put the child in a scenario that risks his or her life

If someone gets behind the wheel of a car while drunk, and drives with a child in the car, then that person is placing the child’s life at extreme risk. Drunk drivers are often involved in severe car accidents. Even if the child is not harmed, his or her life was still at risk.

That being said, you will not face the same penalties if the child was unharmed that you will if the child was hurt, or even killed. There is a scale that this kind of crime operates on, and what you are charged with will depend on the child’s well-being. Of course, no conviction for child endangerment will be a cakewalk.

Facing Harsh Penalties

If the child is in the car during your DUI arrest, but he or she is unharmed, then you will be charged with a misdemeanor. This means that once you are released and finished with any parole requirements, you will be able to retain all your rights. Your penalties could include:

  • Between 3 months and 1 year in jail
  • Fines of up to $1,000

If the child is injured by the time you arrested for a DUI, then your penalties will be much harsher. You will be charged with a class 3 felony, and you could be facing penalties such as:

  • Between 2 and 6 years in prison
  • A mandatory 3-year parole
  • Fines of up to $500,000

If you are found to have acted recklessly, as in you understood the risks you were taking but chose to act anyway, then your penalties will be even harsher. They could include:

  • Between 4 and 12 years in prison
  • A mandatory 5-year parole
  • Fines of up to $750,000

If the child was killed due to you driving drunk, then you will be charged with a class 3 felony, and could be facing a punishment that includes:

  • Between 4 and 12 years in prison
  • A mandatory 5-year parole
  • Fines of up to $750,000

If you are found to have acted recklessly leading up to the child’s death, then you will be charged with a class 2 felony, and, if you are convicted, could be facing:

  • Between 8 and 24 years in prison
  • A mandatory 5-year parole
  • Fines of up to $1,000,000

Keep in mind that these penalties are in addition to what you will be facing with your DUI charge. So while one year in jail may not sound that bad, that will be one year plus the additional years you may be facing for the DUI conviction. Child endangerment is a common aggravating factor with DUIs, meaning that it is often used by the prosecution to extend someone’s time behind bars.

How to Move Forward

No one wants to spend several decades behind bars. However, if you are facing a child engagement charge paired with a DUI charge in Colorado Springs, then you may not have a choice. Of course, with a skilled attorney by your side, you may be able to have your penalties lightened, or even have your charges dropped altogether. You will need a criminal defense attorney with years of experience who will fight for your rights. Thankfully, you can find a team of such attorneys at our firm, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. To get started on your defense, call us at (719) 475-2555 today.

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