Child Endangerment DWI Charges
Having a passenger under 18 years of age present in your car while committing a DWI is considered a very serious (grossly) aggravating factor in DWI cases. If convicted of doing so, the judge could rule that you at least committed a Level 2 DWI due to having a grossly aggravating factor, which means a maximum fine of #2,000 and minimum jail time of seven days up to a year. In addition to direct criminal penalties and driving privilege penalties, you can face a conviction of misdemeanor child abuse in North Carolina.
Child Endangerment from DWI Penalties
According to North Carolina law (statues 14-318.2), misdemeanor child abuse occurs when the child’s caretaker:
- Inflicts physical injury on the child; or
- Allows physical injury to be inflicted on the child; or
- Creates or allows a substantial risk of physical injury to the child.
Generally, a judge would consider any case of a child being in your vehicle while committing a DWI to fall under at least the third definition of misdemeanor child abuse. A conviction will result in a Class A1 misdemeanor, which means you could face up to five months in jail or probation. Additionally, the potentially civil and social consequences of child abuse can be very serious. This includes loss of custody (if you share custody) or an investigation from child protective services and potentially losing all custody of the child or children.
In addition to child abuse charges, child endangerment itself is a grossly aggravating factor for DWI sentencing. This means it is among the most serious factors judges will account for when determining the penalties for a DWI conviction. In this case, having just one grossly aggravating factor sets a DWI conviction at least a Level 2 sentence, the second highest sentence with a maximum fine of $2000 along with minimum jail time of seven days up to a year.
Defending DWI and Child Endangerment Charges
It is essential that if you are caught driving while impaired with a child in your car that you contact experienced criminal defense attorneys. Without a strong criminal defense against these charges, you are not only subject to harsh criminal charges but opening the floodgates to devastating civil court and social consequences. The DWI defense attorneys at Tarlton Polk Law can serve as your essential first line of defense against these charges and help you navigate all the complicated aspects of these case as they build a tough defense.