Getting arrested for a DUI is already bad news, but if you happen to have a child in the car at the time, your charges become much more serious.
Under Colorado law, driving drunk with a child in tow could net you charges of dependency and neglect, even child abuse. This aggravating factor can result in your DUI being upgraded to a felony.
DUI and Automatic Child Abuse Charges
Child abuse charges can vary in severity. Misdemeanor child abuse occurs when a person causes an injury to a child’s life or health, or permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health. This is the typical child abuse charge a person would face in a DUI. If the child suffers any injuries in a DUI-related car accident, the child abuse charge upgrades to a Class 3 felony carrying a 4-12 year prison term and/or a fine up to $750,000 dollars.
A child abuse charge will also invite an investigation by the Colorado Department of Human Services, and if the investigation finds that you did indeed commit child abuse, your name is entered into the Colorado State child abuse registry, the TRAILS system. While the public does not have full access to the TRAILS system, it is used by many groups who are involved in child welfare – teachers, day cares, even parents volunteering with schools or community organizations. This is just one of many ways a child abuse charge can follow you for life.
Long story short, a companion charge to a DUI can influence jurors, and conviction could result in a much higher sentence. If you have been charged with a DUI and child abuse or endangerment, you must contact a lawyer moving forward. Fighting such serious charges is a daunting task, and you need a strong ally to advocate for your defense. Listen to attorney Jake Johnson explain what to expect when calling in about DUI defense: