The concept underlying all of Georgia's criminal statutes is the idea that the public at large must be safeguarded against harm inflicted by others. Furthermore, it has long been accepted that some particularly vulnerable categories of citizens need a greater degree of protection, and children represent one such group. Individuals who are deemed to have placed the safety of a young person in real jeopardy can be subjected to significant sanctions, and this is certainly true when the nature of the danger is exacerbated by driving under the influence of alcohol. In addition to the customary penalties applicable to those who drink and drive, motorists who do so in the presence of children can expect to face even more onerous punishments. If you have been charged with DUI and child endangerment, it is essential to secure the assistance of skilled legal counsel immediately.
The Interaction of Child Endangerment and DUI Charges
A DUI charge on its own is serious enough, but when a charge of child endangerment accompanies it, the consequences can be devastating. Long periods of incarceration, crippling fines, lengthy license suspensions, probationary supervision and other detrimental effects are likely to follow. The reason for this is that anyone charged with DUI will also face an additional criminal charge for each and every child riding in the car at the time of the traffic stop.
Because these charges are so inextricably linked, a guilty finding on the broader charge of DUI will necessarily result in guilty findings for each child endangerment-related DUI charge. Specifically, O.C.G.A. 40-6-391 provides that for each child under the age of 14 riding in the car at the time of the offense, an additional charge of child endangerment by way of driving under the influence can also attach. This is separate and apart from the basic charge itself. Because these offenses are punished under Georgia code provisions regarding contributing to the delinquency of a child, the cumulative effect can be massive. A driver could potentially go from having a completely clean criminal history to having a record containing multiple convictions all in one fell swoop. Considering that a fourth DUI conviction represents a felony under Georgia law, a single DUI with three children present can instantly escalate to a life-altering situation.
Available Defense Strategies
Those who have faced charges of DUI combined with child endangerment can attest to the strain and uncertainty such a circumstance can bring. However, it is critical for anyone accused of these offenses to realize that viable defense strategies often do exist which can be effectively employed by an experienced DUI defense attorney. The constitution protects every citizen from invalid searches, seizures and traffic stops, and a skilled legal advocate will work hard to exploit all weaknesses in the prosecution's case and the evidence used to bolster it.
High Stakes for DUI Defendants
It is no secret that DUI convictions almost always have a negative impact on the lives of those who receive them. Loss of employment, financial sanctions, license revocations, jail time, and other ramifications often serve as very real obstacles in the way of leading a productive life. However, those found guilty of child endangerment stemming from DUI can expect to face even greater challenges. Individuals who work with children for a living may find that their entire careers are suddenly at risk. Those with custodial agreements in place may be forced to fight to maintain fundamental rights. There truly is no substitute for experienced, aggressive legal counsel when it comes to eliminating or mitigating the distinct harm these types of charges can produce.
How Morris Law, P.C. Can Help
Jill and Pittman Morris understand the fear and confusion DUI and child endangerment charges inevitably create. It is our mission to pursue all available avenues of legal defense, identify flaws in the state's arguments and protect each client's right to fair treatment under the law. For a no-cost consultation, contact us at (703) 250-1316.