Driving while intoxicated or driving while under the influence are the most common references to the charge of DWI. Most frequently, this type of impaired driving behavior is a result of alcohol consumption that impacts a driver’s ability to safely operate a vehicle on a public roadway.
The severity of the penalties that you can expect as a result of a DWI charge can vary based upon the circumstances of your case, such as whether you have been convicted of previous DWIs in the past and, if so, how recently. Some elements, known as aggravating factors, can cause your case to incur harsher penalties, and driving while intoxicated with a child passenger is one such aggravating factor.
Understanding Aggravating Factors In The Case Of A DWI
An aggravating factor is a circumstance that, if present, will worsen the penalties that you receive as a result of a charge of driving while intoxicated. In Virginia, potential aggravating factors include elements such as a very high blood alcohol level, 0.15% or above, where 0.08% is considered the limit necessary to qualify as intoxicated.
In addition, operating a motor vehicle while impaired while a minor individual under the age of 17 is a passenger in the car is considered an aggravating factor and can increase the potential penalties that you may be subject to if you are convicted of a DWI in Virginia.
Statistics About Children In DWI Cases
Virginia takes driving safety very seriously, which is why receiving a DWI charge with a child passenger in the vehicle can significantly change the amount of potential fines or jail time if you are convicted.
In fact, Mothers Against Drunk Driving note that as many as 52% of the fatalities of the children who died as a result of auto accidents, arose during cases in which the driver was intoxicated. Not only do intoxicated drivers pose a threat on the roadway by operating their vehicles unsafely, but they are also more likely to fail to abide by proper safety precautions for their passengers, such as correctly securing a child into a car seat or ensuring that the child is wearing a seatbelt.
Almost all states within the U.S. have deemed driving while intoxicated, with a child passenger, to be a form of child endangerment, which is part of the reason why the penalties for this aggravating factor can be so severe.
Potential Penalties For DWI With A Child In The Vehicle
Section §18.2-270 is the section of the law that governs how a charge of DWI with a child passenger is treated in Virginia. Typically, this is presented as DUI child endangerment, and those convicted can expect a fine ranging from $500 to $1000.
In addition, they will be expected to spend a minimum of 5 days in jail; it is possible for the sentence to be longer. The fine and jail time are not mutually exclusive; many drivers will be sentenced with both. These are not the penalties for the DWI, they are the result of the child endangerment charge. If convicted, you will also be responsible for any punishments relating to the DWI itself.
If you have been convicted of a DWI with a child passenger and it is not your first conviction, your penalties will continue to increase. You will now be expected to pay the fine and serve the jail time as before; however, in addition, 80 hours of community service are mandatory and must be targeted toward causes that specifically benefit children.
It is important to keep in mind that because DWI with a child passenger is treated as both driving while intoxicated and also child endangerment, the single act could result in multiple convictions on an individual’s criminal history record.
This may have a long-term impact on their ability to seek employment or qualify for other benefits, which means that it is important to work with a legal professional as soon as possible in order to mitigate the potential damage.
Work With Professional Defense Attorneys To Mitigate Your Penalties
If you have been charged with a DWI and child endangerment due to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a child present as a passenger, it is important to reach out for legal guidance as soon as possible. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to help you explore your options and advocate on your behalf to improve the potential outcome of your case. If possible, we will seek to reduce your penalties to possibly avoid multiple convictions on your record. Reach out to schedule a consultation today.