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What Happens If You Get a DUI While Driving With a Young Child?

Rhode Island Laws for Driving Under the Influence With a Child Under 13-Years Old

Dealing with a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in the state of Rhode Island can be stressful, scary, and, unfortunately, common. In 2017, 41% of Rhode Island’s driving fatalities were the result of driving under the influence, which is above the national average.

A single DUI can quickly make a mess of your life. A first conviction in the state of Rhode Island results in a $100 - $500 fine, 10-60 hours of community service, and potentially up to 1 year in prison. Your driver’s license will also be suspended for a minimum of 3 months and as many as 18 months. The sentencing judge or magistrate may prohibit you from operating a motor vehicle that is not equipped with an ignition interlock system for three (3) months to one year. Finally, you will be required to either undertake some form of alcohol or drug treatment plan, which might include a special course on driving while intoxicated.

These consequences are severe in their own right, but they can get even harsher when a DUI is combined with other offenses. One such scenario includes driving under the influence while a minor child under 13-years old is a passenger in your vehicle. This is considered child endangerment in the state of Rhode Island, and the offense carries heavy penalties in addition to DUI punishments. I break down the extent of these consequences and how they work below.

Consequences of DUI-Related Child Endangerment

If you are a legal adult (at least 18-years old) arrested for a DUI when a minor child under 13-years old is a passenger in your vehicle, you will face an additional charge of child endangerment in the state of Rhode Island. A conviction can lead to penalties greater than those of a DUI in isolation, but you will also experience immediate consequences. For starters, your driver’s license will be immediately suspended pending prosecution.

In the state of Rhode Island, what happens in the event of a child endangerment conviction depends on whether this is your first offense. If you are a first-time violator, you will be found guilty of a misdemeanor and could be sentenced to up to 1 year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000. At the discretion of the court, you may also be slapped with a potential additional highway assessment fine of up to $500, and your driver’s license could be suspended for up to 2 years. Like any DUI conviction, you will also have to take part in some sort of education or treatment program to address alcohol and drug abuse.

Second and subsequent child endangerment convictions carry even graver consequences. If you are a repeat offender, a conviction means being found guilty of a felony, a prison sentence of up to 5 years, and another fine of up to $5000, in addition to the aforementioned additional fines, license suspensions, and educational requirements.

Losing your license, prison time, and fines are not the only ways DUI-related child endangerment can adversely impact your life. Child endangerment can influence ongoing cases in family court and cause you to lose visitation, placement or custody rights. The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) will investigate your case and the affected child’s living situation, and, at their discretion, may remove the child from your home. Losing custody can happen even if you are not presently involved in a family court matter.

Let an Experienced Attorney Advocate For You

Facing a DUI charge alone can be a stressful, terrifying endeavor, and child endangerment charges make the stakes even higher. My team at the Law Office of Steven J. Hart has the legal knowledge and experience to fight for you.

If you are facing DUI or child endangerment charges in the state of Rhode Island, my firm can help you explore your options. Dial (888) 701-0919 or contact me online for a complimentary consultation.

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