A traffic stop can be a completely different story if an officer smells alcohol or detects any suspicious, potentially drunken behavior on your part when you are pulled over. And a DUI/DWI charge can become even more complicated when young passengers are involved, New Jersey DUI attorneys say. Child endangerment charges can be quickly escalated if drugs or alcohol are involved in a parent or guardian’s unsafe behavior, and can lead to harsher penalties.
In a recent case, a 29-year-old Bogota man was pulled over after officers saw his vehicle drifting across the lanes around 2:30 am on a Saturday. During the traffic stopped, officers noticed that the driver, Domingo Cesar, had two children sleeping in his backseat, ages 9 and 5. Due to Cesar’s erratic driving, his bloodshot eyes, and the strong smell of alcohol in the car, the officers performed a field sobriety test, which Cesar failed. He was arrested on both drunk driving charges and child endangerment.
In another drunk guardian case, a mother left her infant in the care of a nanny for a few hours, and came home to find the woman drunk on the floor. The 50-year-old nanny fled the house, and was later picked up by police after she ran her car into a fire hydrant. At the scene of the accident, police discovered three empty bottles of alcohol in the car, and administered a blood alcohol test. Her BAC was found to be three times over the legal limit, and she was charged with both child endangerment, for drinking while looking after an infant, and DUI/DWI.
Even though Cesar was not in an accident, and his passengers were unscathed, and the infant with the drunk nanny did not come to any harm, these actions constitute reckless endangerment of a child under New Jersey’s laws. In these situations, if a parent or legal guardian is endangering the children in his or her care by driving drunk, the DUI charge could have more repercussions than a fine or jail time. Drunk driving charges can be used in court to demonstrate a lack of regard for the safety of others, and a lack of personal responsibility or trustworthiness.
If a parent cannot be trusted to keep his children safe from his own actions, this could affect his ability to retain custody, or even partial custody and visitation, after he serves time or makes restitution, New Jersey DUI attorneys say. Child endangerment can result in 5-10 years in prison upon conviction. Similarly, a nanny or babysitter who is caught drinking and driving, even if he or she has not been watching children earlier that day, can be labeled as negligent, and a DUI/DWI charge could come at the expense of a professional reputation.
At Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, a New Jersey law firm, our DUI attorneys represent clients who have been charged in both DUI/DWI defense and child endangerment cases. These situations need to be handled delicately, and with extreme attention to both the drunk driving and the family law charges at hand. For a free, no-strings consultation in your case, contact an attorney at HCK today.