Any activity that places a child’s health, safety and wellbeing in danger can be prosecuted as child endangerment. When adults and parents are caught drinking and driving with children inside their vehicle – they can be charged with child endangerment.
If you are pulled over in a traffic stop and the police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of alcohol – he or she may ask you to submit to a chemical test. If it can be proven that your blood alcohol concentration was above the legal limit (.08%) – then you can be arrested for OUI. However, if you were drinking and driving and had a child under the age of 14 inside your vehicle at the time of your traffic stop – you can be charged with child endangerment.
What is child endangerment? In Massachusetts, child endangerment is when an adult recklessly engages in conduct that creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to a child. It can also refer to when an adult recklessly fails to take reasonable steps to alleviate such risk where there is a duty. When an adult is found guilty of child endangerment, they can be punished in a house of correction for a maximum of two and a half years.
A person can be guilty of child endangerment in one of two ways: either their wanton or reckless actions place the child in imminent danger or they fail to stop such behaviors when they observe someone putting that child in serious danger. The law heavily frowns upon individuals who consciously disregard such risks, especially when they would constitute a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would have done in the same situation.
Driving while intoxicated is one of the most common forms of child endangerment – aside from child abuse or sexual abuse. Because the risks of being involved in a motor vehicle collision are greatly enhanced when someone is intoxicated – they are punished heavily when a child is in the vehicle while such offense is committed.
Every day thousands of parents load their children into their vehicles and drive away as they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. According to a child endangerment report, it was revealed that approximately 390 children die each year in alcohol-related crashes in the United States. The annual death toll contributed to legislation being passed that sought to further penalize adults who drink and drive with their kids in the car.
Although child safety should be of the utmost concern for all parents and legislative bodies it does not change the fact that many parents are usually very good parents. Sometimes child endangerment charges can do more harm than good to a family – especially to the children. Having a few drinks at a family barbeque can have devastating consequences for a parent if they later drive home with their family inside the vehicle. If they are pulled over and found to have a BAC above the legal limit – they could be facing child endangerment charges.
Tragically, this illustrates how a momentary lapse in judgment can have long-lasting consequences. If you were arrested for OUI and if you are facing child endangerment charges – you must secure a DUI defense attorney right now. You could be facing fines, jail or prison sentencing, a driver’s license suspension and much more. Your attorney will know exactly how to defend you against the charges and they will know how to effectively present your case to the courts. Protect your future and your parental rights – contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer today!