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Endangering a child while DUI is a separate and punishable offense

On Behalf of | Sep 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely. Anyone who drives recklessly jeopardizes not only their own lives but also the lives of other drivers, pedestrians and even passengers.

Operating a vehicle while drunk is one such reckless behavior, which is why it’s a criminal offense across America. Officers can charge drivers with driving under the influence (DUI) if they find the drivers clearly impaired by either alcohol or drugs. However, a driver who has a child passenger at the time of their DUI charge may also face an additional criminal charge for putting the underage passenger at risk.

State law on endangering a child while DUI

According to Georgia law, a driver who violates the state’s prohibition on drunk driving while transporting a child under 14 can be charged with the separate offense of endangering a child by DUI.

Per rules, the offense of endangering a child will not be merged with the driver’s DUI offense. This means the driver will have to attend two separate court hearings, one for their DUI and the other for endangering a child passenger.

Child endangerment penalties

If a driver is convicted of child endangerment, they face the same penalties levied on those convicted for contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a minor. These penalties are:

  • First or second offense: The court will convict the driver of a misdemeanor. They’ll have to pay a maximum fine of $1,000 and serve up to 12 months in prison.
  • Third or subsequent offense: The driver faces a felony on their criminal record on conviction. Penalties include a maximum $5,000 fine and up to three years imprisonment.

Because a child endangerment case is separate from the driver’s DUI case, the driver can potentially bear additional punishment if their DUI case also leads to a conviction.

Putting others at risk with a DUI is never a good thing

Whether a driver had a child passenger in their car during a DUI violation or their drunken driving caused an accident that led to the injury of another, they should be prepared to face multiple criminal charges. Drivers in this situation should be ready to build strong cases or else experience several penalties all at once.