Arrested for a DUI with Children in the Car in Colorado Springs
If you or a loved one has been accused of driving under the influence then you probably are familiar with the serious consequences associated with a DUI conviction. If, however, the allegations include a minor child being in the car at the time of driving under the influence, then the driver will find himself in a much worse situation. In Colorado, this factual wrinkle will likely result in the charging of an additional criminal offense of child abuse. These circumstances have the potential to result in more jail time and additional evaluations and treatment related to child abuse. These penalties are in addition to the penalties associated with the driving under the influence offense.
Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-401(2), a child is defined as a person under the age of 16. Additionally, Colorado’s legislature has enacted a broad prohibition against child abuse, even if there is no injury. Pursuant to C.R.S. §18-6-401(1), a person commits child abuse if such person:
- Causes an injury to a child’s life or health,
- Permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health,
- Engages in a continued pattern of conduct that results in malnourishment, lack of proper medical care, cruel punishment, or mistreatment, or an accumulation of injuries that ultimately results in the death of a child or serious bodily injury to a child.
In the context of an allegation of driving under the influence, an accident will play a large role in determining the severity of a child abuse charge. If you or a loved one has been involved in a DUI-related car accident where a child is in the car then the child will likely suffer an injury. If the child suffers a "serious bodily injury" then the driver will face a felony level allegation of child abuse. If the government alleges that the "serious bodily injury" was caused by knowing or reckless behavior then the driver will face a mandatory 10–32 years in the Department of Corrections.
Even where there is no car accident and no injuries suffered by the child, the driver is still likely to be charged with misdemeanor child abuse under the theory that driving under the influence unreasonably places a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child.
In addition to the consequences associated with the criminal action itself, a child abuse allegation can have far-reaching consequences. Any allegations of child abuse must be reported to the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services (DHS). Once reported, DHS will then require a separate investigation which may jeopardize a person’s parental rights. Not carefully handling a DUI case that is coupled with child abuse allegations can result in lifelong repercussions.
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI and child abuse as a result of having a minor in the vehicle, it is vital to seek knowledgeable legal representation from a Colorado Springs DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. The importance of fighting such serious charges cannot be overstated, and you will need a dedicated legal advocate with a history of success in defending DUI cases by your side and fighting for you.
Tim Bussey with The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., has been practicing criminal law since 1991. He has been a defense attorney, Assistant District Attorney, and active-duty Judge Advocate with the U.S. Air Force. He has been named among Colorado Super Lawyers® and awarded 10.0 Superb Rating on Avvo and the Avvo Clients' Choice Award for DUI and DWI. Call him today at (719) 475-2555 for a free consultation.