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DUI With Minor in Vehicle

DUI With Minor in Vehicle

Fort Wayne DUI lawyer defends charges for serious drunk driving charges

Any drunk driving arrest can expose you to serious legal and administrative penalties. However, the law imposes greater penalties on putting the health and life of a child at risk. This enhanced drunk driving charge can result in lengthier jail time, higher fines and a court order barring you from contact with the child. As such, you need the strongest legal counsel available. The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey is ready to present an aggressive defense that challenges every element of the case against you.

What happens if you are charged with DUI with a minor in the car in Indiana?

The official term for drunk or drug-impaired driving in Indiana is operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). However, the term DUI is used in common parlance. Driving drunk with a minor in the vehicle carries some of the heavier penalties for DUI in Indiana. The offense is a Level 6 felony, carrying a maximum sentence of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Worse yet, if the child suffered bodily injury, the driver can be charged with Level 5 felony for neglect of a dependent. That charge carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Likewise, if you have a prior conviction for DUI causing serious injury or death within the last five years, the offense is elevated to a Level 5 felony, with a weightier sentence.

Why is drunk driving with a child so serious?

The enhanced charges for DUI with a minor are meant to deter situations where a child is placed in unreasonable danger. Since children are usually not at liberty to refuse a ride from an intoxicated parent or guardian, the law is meant to give these adults pause.

Child endangerment with DUI cases in Indiana

As we discuss below, child endangerment is a necessary element of the offense of DUI with a minor in the vehicle. This has serious implications for a driver who is related to the minor in question. A prosecutor can ask the court to issue a no-contact order against the driver. This can operate as a restraining order against a parent, sibling, grandparent or other relative of a child. In some cases, the targeted adult would have to move out of a residence shared with the child.

The Department of Child Services might also get involved. It is not unheard of for the agency to attempt to remove a child from a home where a parent has been convicted of DUI with a minor.

Fort Wayne attorney defends charges of DUI with a minor

If there is any good news, it’s that the prosecution must prove several elements of the offense to obtain a conviction, which include:

  • Driver is at least 21 years of age
  • Driver’s blood alcohol content is 0.15 percent or higher or a drug metabolite is present in the blood. This is much higher BAC than the standard DUI level of 0.08 percent.
  • Minor under the age of 18 is in the vehicle
  • Element of endangerment to the child exists

In addition, the accused driver can rely on various defense strategies discussed below. 

An experienced DUI attorney can challenge the prosecution’s evidence, starting with the legality of a traffic stop. Officers might also have lacked probable cause to make an arrest, and blood alcohol testing might have been mishandled leading to unreliable results. It is also sometimes possible to negotiate a plea to a lesser driving offense.

Contact a trustworthy defense attorney for difficult DUI cases

The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey provides aggressive defense for DUI cases involving minor passengers. For a free consultation, please call us at 260-222-7364 or contact the firm online.

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  • Fort Wayne Office
    1519 Spy Run Ave.
    Fort Wayne, Indiana 46805
    Phone: 260-437-0197
    Fax: 260-745-4703