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Colorado DUI With a Child in the Car: Child Abuse?

Colorado DUI With a Child in the Car: Child Abuse?

Colorado DUI With a Child in the Car: Child Abuse?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is never a good idea. You are putting not only your life in danger but also the lives of everyone else on or near the road. One of the few things that can make this behavior worse is when you put the life of a child in danger by driving under the influence with a child in the car. This activity is considered so heinous that Colorado increases the penalties for people who are convicted of a DUI when a child is in the car. The consequences for DUI with a minor passenger are described below.

Consequences for DUI With a Minor Passenger

Automatic Child Abuse Charges

If you are arrested for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will be charged with a DUI or DWAI (driving while ability impaired) depending on the circumstances of your arrest. However, just because you are charged with a DUI, that doesn’t mean the state can’t charge you with other crimes. When a child under 16 years old is present in the vehicle, the state will automatically bring child abuse charges against the driver. The severity of these charges depends primarily on whether the child was injured or killed due to the actions of the driver. In these situations, consulting with a Denver child abuse defense lawyer is crucial.

In Colorado, child abuse charges are automatically tacked on to any other charges if a child under the age of 16 years old is in the vehicle.

Child Abuse Penalties

The penalties for child abuse in Colorado depend on whether the defendant is charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. Child abuse charges stemming from a DUI can potentially be charged at several different levels. The least severe charges can be a class 2 misdemeanor, and the most severe can be a class 2 felony.

According to Colorado child abuse laws, you will be charged with a misdemeanor if the child was uninjured or suffered a non-serious injury. If the child suffers a serious injury or death, the charges will be at least a class 4 felony. The potential penalties for misdemeanor child abuse have recently changed. The following is a breakdown of possible penalties, depending on how the crime is charged:

  • Class 2 Misdemeanor: Up to 364 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine
  • Class 4 Felony: 2 to 6 years in prison and a $2,000 to $500,000 fine
  • Class 3 Felony: 4 to 12 years in prison and a $3,000 to $750,000 fine
  • Class 2 Felony: 8 to 24 years in prison and a $5,000 to $1 million fine.

Class 2 felonies are reserved for DUI cases where a child was killed due to the action of the driver.

Were you arrested for driving under the influence with a child present in the vehicle? The consequences of these charges can be devastating. You can’t afford to rely on a court-appointed lawyer to protect you in this situation. Contact the Law Office of Kevin Cahill at 720-445-9887 to discuss your case with an experienced Colorado DUI attorney.

Additional Consequences of a DUI With a Child in the Car

Child Abuse and DUI Charges Have Lasting Consequences

The most obvious additional consequence of getting convicted of a DUI with a child present in the car is that you were convicted of a DUI. This means that in addition to any jail time you receive for child abuse charges, you could also be assigned jail time for a DUI.

If you are lucky, the court will order you to serve these concurrently or will replace your sentence with a drug and alcohol education course. However, even if you avoid additional jail time, your license will be revoked for at least nine months. That is a long time to go without a license, especially if you are the parent of a child.

However, this may not be an issue, unfortunately. Because endangering a child via a DUI offense is charged as child abuse, an investigation by the Colorado Department of Human Services is automatically initiated. This means that your name is likely to get registered with TRAILS, the child abuse registry system. You could also be subjected to a protection order, preventing you from contacting or residing with your child. If child services get involved, it is even possible that you might lose your parental rights.

Protecting Yourself From These Consequences

The best way to protect yourself from potentially losing your driving privileges, parental rights, and freedom is to never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, regardless of whether a child is present. However, if you find yourself facing these charges, you should contact an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will fight to get your charges dismissed or reduced and to protect you from the most serious consequences of these charges: loss of your liberty and your child.

Never admit to any crimes or actions until you have spoken with a lawyer. The wheels of justice in Colorado are not very forgiving, and they will grind you down quickly if you admit to anything. You need a lawyer who will act to protect your rights and use every possible tool available to keep you from losing the things that are most important to you.

Contact a Colorado DUI or Criminal Defense Attorney Today

In Colorado, a single mistake can cost you almost everything, even if no one was hurt in any way. Colorado offers almost no leniency when a child is involved in a DUI. However, prosecutors aren’t the state, and an experienced lawyer can negotiate to prevent you from losing everything after getting charged with a DUI when a child is present in the car.

If you are facing DUI charges and child abuse charges based on a child being in the vehicle during that DUI, don’t wait to get legal assistance. The Law Office of Kevin Cahill has years of experience helping people in your situation. Contact the law firm at 720-445-9887 immediately after an arrest.

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