Under Michigan law, driving while impaired and with a child under 16 in the vehicle is child endangerment, a criminal offense. While any offender who was driving under the influence (DUI) is subject to severe penalties, when a child is involved and child endangerment charges are also applicable, the potential consequences of a conviction are enhanced.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.9 percent of surveyed adults reported driving after drinking too much. Recent data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows more than a quarter of all drivers who die in crashes in the United States have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. In 2016 alone, more than 7,000 lives could have been saved if all drivers were below the legal limit of 0.08. In 2017, 19 percent of traffic fatalities of children age 14 and younger occurred in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes. These troubling statistics support the need for specific child endangerment laws in addition to standard DUI laws.
Potential Penalties for Child Endangerment
A first-time conviction for driving under the influence may result in:
- Fine of $100 to $500;
- Jail term of up to 93 days;
- Suspension of driver’s license for up to 30 days;
- Restrictions on driving privileges for up to 150 days;
- Ignition interlock device in vehicle; and
- Points on offender’s driving record.
A first offense child endangerment charge related to DUI is a misdemeanor. Penalties may include:
- Fine of $200 to $1,000;
- 30 to 90 days of community service;
- Driver’s license revocation; and
- Five days to one year in prison.
A second child endangerment charge related to DUI within seven years, and any subsequent offenses, is a felony, and may result in:
- Fines up to $5,000;
- Mandatory minimum imprisonment up to five years;
- Up to 180 days of community service; and
- Lifetime driver’s license revocation.
Repercussions of Child Endangerment
Placing a child at risk for harm is child neglect. Under state Child Protection Laws, cases involving child neglect must be reported to the Michigan Department of Child Protective Services (CPS).
The social stigma of undergoing investigation by CPS may be embarrassing, and could even impact a parent’s custody or visitation rights in divorce proceedings. Additionally, the ability to adopt or foster a child could be restricted.
Attorneys Paul Tafelski and Andrew Kowalkowski of Michigan Defense Law have extensive experience in every aspect of criminal law, including helping clients deal with and recover from CPS investigations.
An Arrest May Not Result in a Conviction
At Michigan Defense Law, our clients are our priority, and our commitment is to provide the best defense possible in every case. We thoroughly investigate the circumstances of every arrest to identify potential challenges to the evidence. We have handled hundreds of cases with successful results.
In order for an arrest to be valid, there must have been sufficient evidence to support the arresting officer’s belief that the motorist was driving under the influence. If the arresting officer did not have evidence that the driver was under the influence of alcohol, then the arrest may be invalidated.
Countless factors can skew blood alcohol test results, and accuracy depends on continuous quality control. A driver’s BAC reading can be excluded from use in court for any number of reasons, including but not limited to:
- Software inaccuracy;
- Tester incompetence;
- The possibility that the blood draw needle was contaminated with alcohol;
- Presence of residual mouth alcohol that may inflate results in a breath test;
- A driver’s diagnosis of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD); and
- Equipment calibration error. In August 2016, WXYZ reported a calibration error affected the results of over 4,000 blood alcohol tests statewide.
In cases where a field sobriety test was administered, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends these tests should not be given if the subject:
- Is overweight by 50 pounds or more;
- Is over age 65;
- Has substantiated back, hip, leg, knee, or ankle problems;
- Has any disability affecting balance; and/or
- Is wearing shoes with two inches or higher heels.
Our Experienced Criminal Defense Team
The legal team at Michigan Defense Law is thorough, diligent, and ready to put our years of experience and knowledge to work for you. Some of the things we do for our clients include:
- Request a bail reduction and release on the client’s own recognizance;
- Conduct a comprehensive review of all of the state’s evidence;
- Determine the validity of the stop and arrest;
- Move to suppress any illegally obtained evidence;
- Move to dismiss charges when appropriate;
- Interview arresting officers and other witnesses;
- Review lab tests to determine if they were processed correctly;
- Verify testing equipment to ensure it was calibrated correctly and working properly at the time of the arrest;
- Negotiate a favorable plea agreement if it is determined that is in the client’s best interest;
- Vigorously defend the client at trial;
- Leverage our years of experience with prosecutors and sentencing judges to obtain the best possible outcomes; and
- Limit court appearances and arrange mail-in probation for out-of-state clients.
Michigan Defense Law is committed to serving our clients with alcohol-related and child endangerment charges. Our team works to protect every client’s rights, and preserve their driving privileges. Regardless of whether you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, you need an effective advocate on your side.
If you have been charged with child endangerment in addition to DUI charges, you are facing serious potential penalties. Our attorneys have the knowledge, resources, and experience to challenge the charges and avoid a conviction that could result in imprisonment, probation, and fines, and that may impact an individual’s driving privileges, future job and education prospects, and lifetime insurance rates.
Get the Help You Need From Michigan Defense Law
The attorneys at Michigan Defense Law understand the stress caused by DUI and child endangerment charges, and are here to answer the questions you may have about your options and your future. Contact Michigan Defense Law today at (248) 451-2200 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.