A driving while intoxicated charge only becomes more complex if a child or multiple children were in the vehicle at the time of your arrest. As an adult, you are entrusted to look out for any minors in your care, and if you put them at risk of death or injury because you decided to drive drunk, the law can come down hard on you. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at how having a child in the vehicle can impact your DWI charge.
DWI With A Child In The Car
If a minor is in the vehicle that you are driving at the time of your DWI arrest, your criminal charge will be upgraded. That’s because having a minor in the vehicle is considered an aggravating factor here in Minnesota. Other aggravating factors that can lead to an upgraded drunk driving charge include having a previous DWI within the last 10 years or having a BAC over 0.16. While most first-offense drunk driving arrests will result in a fourth-degree DWI charge, which is a misdemeanor offense, the presence of a child in the vehicle means that your charge will automatically be bumped up to a third-degree DWI. This is considered a gross misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines up to $3,000.
There’s also the possibility that you will be charged with child endangerment. The law states:
A parent, legal guardian, or caretaker who willfully deprives a child of necessary food, clothing, shelter, health care, or supervision appropriate to the child’s age, when the parent, guardian, or caretaker is reasonably able to make the necessary provisions and the deprivation harms or is likely to substantially harm the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health is guilty of neglect.
The law goes on to say that any parent or guardian who endangers a child by “intentionally or recklessly causing or permitting a child to be placed in a situation likely to substantially harm the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or cause the child’s death” is guilty of child endangerment. By making the choice to drive drunk with children in the vehicle, you are greatly increasing their risk of harm, and you may face separate charges for your actions outside the DWI.
As you may imagine, this will be a delicate situation to navigate, which is why it will be important to have a professional criminal defense attorney in your corner. We can help to build a strong defense or negotiate with the prosecution to see if certain charges can be reduced or dropped completely through a plea deal. Don’t just go to court and plead guilty and hope for a slap on the wrist. Come to court prepared and with a lawyer by your side, and we know that you’ll be able to avoid a worst case scenario. For more information, or for help with a different criminal matter, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today at (952) 224-2277.