The term ‘child endangerment’ is somewhat self explanatory – it refers to a situation or a specific act that endangers a child’s well being. Under Michigan law “child endangerment” is almost exclusively used in reference of a person putting a child in danger by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child in the car.
This is what authorities are saying happened recently, when a 36-year-old woman was seen by an officer, swerving in and out of her lane in a grey Saturn. She was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, but when the officer approached the vehicle, he noticed a little girl strapped into the back seat, who he said looked frightened.
The mother, a resident of Burton, was allegedly so intoxicated that she fell against the car several times while trying to get out of her vehicle. She was also unable to complete the roadside sobriety test and the officer said she smelled strongly of alcohol. The woman was arrested and transported to the Oakland County Jail. Her daughter was picked up by relatives.
The woman agreed to submit to a blood draw, which the prosecutor’s office will use to determine what her BAC level was at the time she was arrested. If her BAC is .17% or higher, she may face “super drunk” driving charges as well. But for now, she is looking at the possibility of child endangerment charges.
Drunk driving with minors in the car will mean criminal charges in Michigan.
Typically, when a parent or caregiver is pulled over by police and arrested for drunk or drugged driving, if there is a child in the vehicle the arresting officer will call CPS. If the CPS worker is able to locate a relative or family member, then they will sometimes place the child in their care. Otherwise, the child is placed in temporary foster care. Either way, they are also likely to open an investigation into possible child abuse or neglect.
It is important to remember that Child Endangerment refers to any action or behavior that a person engages in, that places a child in imminent danger of bodily injury, mental or physical impairment, or death. The child in question doesn’t have to actually be harmed in any way for the charge to be brought, because this specific charge deals with potential harm, rather than actual harm. Essentially, even though the child may be completely unharmed, the fact that they could have been hurt is enough reason for a prosecutor to file a child endangerment charge.
While we urge you not to drive while under the influence of any substance that may affect your ability to drive safely, if you or a loved one have been accused of endangering a child by driving under the influence of intoxicants, contact us immediately at 866-346-5879. These types of situations need to be handled skilled attorneys who practice both criminal defense and family law, as DUI charges and CPS involvement are both complex issues.