A minor may be at risk when you’re driving under the influence. Driving under the influence (DUI) is considered a serious offense in Boise, Idaho which carries stiff penalties. However, the penalties can get even worse when certain aggravating factors become involved. This is why you should consult a Boise felony DUI attorney at the earliest after being arrested for a DUI offense.
One of the factors that can significantly impact the nature of penalties for your DUI offense is the presence of a child. If a child is present in your vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest, you can be certain of a harsher sentence. This is simply because the law prohibits willful endangerment of a child in any way. Here is a look at how a minor’s presence during a DUI arrest can impact the subsequent sentence.
Aggravated DUI Charge
As noted above, certain factors can aggravate the penalties for a DUI offense. When aggravating factors are involved, the offense is considered an aggravated DUI instead of a standard DUI. Aggravated DUI is a felony offense under Idaho laws.
If you have a child in the car and cause a DUI crash resulting in great bodily harm or a permanent disability or disfigurement, you will likely face the aggravated DUI charge. The penalties for an aggravated DUI charge include:
- Longer prison sentence. Depending on the circumstances of the offense, an aggravated DUI charge carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. The minimum jail term is 30 days.
- Heftier fine. Aggravated DUI penalties also include a larger sum of fines so that you may end up paying up to $5,000 for the offense.
- License Suspension. In contrast to a standard DUI, the license suspension period for an aggravated DUI is much longer. You stand to lose your licensing privileges for a minimum of 1 year up to a maximum of 5 years.
Child Endangerment Charge
Even when you were driving under the influence and didn’t cause a crash involving harm to the minor in the vehicle, you may still face additional charges. Under the Idaho Code Section 18-1501, child endangerment is when a person aged above 18 drives under the influence and at the same time, transports a minor in the same vehicle. A separate charge of child endangerment is commonly brought in DUI situations where a minor is present in the vehicle.
Child endangerment is a misdemeanor offense under Idaho laws. Penalties for the offense include:
- A prison sentence of up to six months
- Or, up to a $1,000 fine
- Or, both
In case the child present in the vehicle dies or gets injured, the penalties get harsher. In such a tragic event, the offense is regarded as a felony with a prison sentence of a minimum of one year and up to 10 years.
Child Custody Issues
A major problem caused by DUI involving a minor, often overlooked by DUI drivers, is the issue of child custody. If you are found to be operating a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence and have your own child in the vehicle, the law may decide that you are incapable of taking care of the child.
In such a case, you may lose custody of your child. If you have family members or relatives, the law may hand over the child’s custody to them as you undergo the jail sentence. However, if there are no household members or relatives to take care of the child, the law can authorize the child to be sent to a foster home.
This can significantly disrupt your life and family. Worse still, you may still need to prove that you are a responsible parent, and wait for a specific period, before you can regain custody of your own child.
Why Hire a Boise Felony DUI Attorney?
If you have been charged with a felony DUI offense, or if you were found to be driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, you need immediate legal help. A good lawyer can help you explore all your legal options to seek lower penalties.
Here at the Hooper Law Offices, we work with you to shore up a solid defense for your DUI conviction. In some cases, we may even be able to have your DUI charges reduced or discarded by contesting the fairness of the DUI stop and arrest. Reach out to us today to discuss your Boise DUI case with our attorneys.