When someone has a few too many drinks and gets behind the wheel, they are likely to face drunk driving charges. However, if they have a few too many drinks and get behind the wheel of a car with a child in it, drunk driving charges are going to be the least of their concerns. Because driving drunk with a minor in the car is considered to be child endangerment, which is a very serious crime that can have lifelong repercussions.
Child endangerment is a charge brought when a person is accused of any action or behavior that places a child in imminent danger of bodily injury, mental or physical impairment, or death. In order for someone to be charged with child endangerment, they do not have to assault or injure a child. They only have to do something that places a child in danger of being hurt or killed. It is a charge that refers to potential harm, rather than actual harm.
Because driving drunk is dangerous and often results in accidents that cause severe injuries and even death, driving under the influence of alcohol with a child under the age of 16 in the car is considered to be child endangerment. A child endangerment charge can also be applied to a number of other instances, for example, leaving a child unattended in a hot car, or in a room with unsecured prescription drugs. However, one of the instances in Michigan where it is almost always applied, is when someone drives drunk with one or more children in the car.
Under Michigan law, a first offense child endangerment charge is a misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face fines up to $1,000, up to one year of jail time, community service hours of up to 90 days, and the loss of your driver’s license if the charge was related to drunk driving. But if you’re thinking, “Well, that doesn’t sound so bad!,” don’t relax yet. There’s more.
Should someone be convicted a second time of child endangerment, the second offense is a felony. In this instance the fines are up to $5,000. But the circumstances allow the judge to determine where you serve this second sentence. Either up to 60 days behind bars with up to a year of community service, or up to one year in jail and 180 days of community service.
What’s important to remember is that the criminal charges are only one side of the coin in these type of instances. If you are arrested for drunk driving with a minor in your car, the officers will very likely contact CPS to have them pick up the child that was in the vehicle with you. Once CPS has your child, while they may place them in the care of a family member, there is still a likelihood that they will start an investigation.
Once CPS has conducted an investigation into your life, they may add your name to Michigan’s Central Registry, also known as the ‘abuse and neglect registry’ or require that you perform a series of tasks in order to keep your children. You may be required to attend parenting classes, join substance abuse counseling, or submit to regular drug tests. Also, once you have a file with CPS, you have a stigma that you can never get rid of.
It is important to know that a child endangerment charge can mean so much more than just a misdemeanor charge on your record. So if you or a loved one have been charged with child endangerment, you are going to need the services of an attorney with decades of experience defending those accused of child endangerment. Good thing you found us so quickly!
If you are being threatened with having your children removed from your care because of drunk driving, then you understand the heartbreak that awaits you and your child if you do nothing. Our skilled defense attorneys have spent decades battling CPS. We understand what you are up against, and we can help you through this. So call us today at 866-346-5879. We are available 24/7 in the event of an emergency.