Colorado DUI and Child Abuse Attorney

The consequences of a DUI conviction can be incredibly serious. However, if you were arrested for driving under the influence with children in the car, then you can face addition charges. Specifically, the district attorney can add a charge of either child abuse or reckless endangerment. A conviction of either of these offenses, in addition to a DUI, can add to the punishment a defendant will receive.

Colorado’s child abuse laws are found in both Title 18 and Title 19. However, the law typically charged in DUI cases is C.R.S. 18-6-401. Under this law, a person is guilty of child abuse if he/she “permits a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health.” Under this law, a prosecutor will allege that placing a child in car and then driving that car under the influence of alcohol or drugs creates a threat to the child’s life or health.

A drunk driver can be charged with child abuse even if the children are unharmed – which is the case in most DUI arrests. If the children are unharmed and the defendant has no prior child abuse convictions, then a conviction is a class 2 misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has a prior child abuse conviction, then the defendant faces a class 5 felony. On the other hand, if a child was injured in a DUI related car accident, the charges can be even more serious and often depend on how seriously the child was injured.

Alternatively, the prosecutor can charge a defendant with reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment is defined in C.R.S. 18-3-208 as engaging “in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious bodily injury to another person.” A conviction under this law constitutes a class 3 misdemeanor.

In any case in which a defendant is accused of driving under the influence with children in the car, the added charges of child abuse or reckless endangerment can make a conviction even more serious. In addition to the penalties from the DUI, a person in this situation may face extra jail time, community service, fines, and parenting classes. Thus, if you or loved one is facing DUI and child abuse charges it is important that you retain a qualified DUI attorney.