Getting a DUI is in itself an embarrassing and difficult event to deal with. However, getting a DUI with your kids in the car can be even more difficult for you to deal with. On a personal level, you might be concerned about your kids. You might feel concerned that your children will view you in a different light after this event. In terms of the law, you might face additional charges. Most people charged with a DUI will also be charged with risk of injury to a minor if a child is in the car with them.
Why is Getting a DUI Considered Risk of Injury to a Minor?
If your children in the car with you and you are arrested for a DUI, the police officer is mandated to inform DCF of the situation. You will be charged with risk of injury to a minor. If more than one child is with you, you face multiple counts of this charge. You will also become subject to a DCF investigation. This is because driving while under the influence is interpreted as poor judgment on your part. Even if no accident occurred, drinking and driving with your children in the car puts your children at risk. They are at risk of both physical and emotional damage. In addition, drinking while operating a vehicle could reveal an issue with alcohol. DCF will want to make sure that you do not have an alcohol problem that is negatively effecting your children.
When charged with risk of injury to a minor because of a DUI offense, the maximum punishment will probably be a Class C felony. Risk of injury to a minor is only considered a Class B felony when it involves sexual abuse. If charged with a Class C felony, you risk a prison sentence of up to ten years. You also face a fine of up to $10,000.
Department of Children and Family Investigations
When the Department of Children and Family (DFC) begins an investigation, it is generally because your case has been referred to the agency. Once DCF becomes involved in your case, an investigator with DCF will generally contact you. They will request an interview with you and your children. If the investigator feels that there is imminent danger for the children, this process will be sped up and your children could be removed from your custody.
After the initial interview, the investigators will try to get into your house and investigate your living conditions. They will look into your children’s bedrooms, your bedroom, and other areas of your house. They do this to try to build evidence in their case. Don’t let them! You don’t have to let the investigators into certain rooms, and it is best to contact a lawyer to help you in this situation so that you can cooperate with the investigation but avoid these obtrusive aspects of the investigation.
DCF has 45 days to determine that the allegations are substantiated or unsubstantiated. In order to substantiate the claim, they have to show that there is reasonable cause that neglect or abuse occurred. If the case is substantiated, DCF has the right to petition for your children to be removed from your home and placed in foster care. They can even have your parental rights suspended. If your case is substantiated, you have the opportunity to appeal this decision. Hiring a lawyer to help you is the best option if you want to make an appeal. If your case is not substantiated, the matter will be dropped, and you will not be at risk of losing your children.
Dealing with DCF and understanding how to best handle their investigation can be very difficult, especially if you don’t know anything about DCF. It is always a good idea to hire a lawyer who can assist you in this matter. A lawyer can deal with DCF for you and make sure that you do not say or do anything to build a case against you. Instead, a lawyer will know what steps you need to take to prove that you are a capable parent. In addition, a lawyer can assist you in building a defense in court. To talk to me about your case, contact me here.