Not all DUI / OVWI charges carry the same consequences. One way for things to become a lot more serious if for you to get a DUI / OVWI with a child in the car. This starts out as a Level 6 felony, which carries a maximum penalty of two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
What would be an ordinary misdemeanor DUI / OVWI charge become an automatic felony charge when there’s a passenger in the vehicle under 18. Even if you have no criminal history, a felony is no joke.
A felony can have life-long implications for jobs and can disrupt the lives of everyone in the family. Many high-paying jobs have a policy of not hiring people with felony convictions.
Your kid’s school might say you’re not allowed to chaperone field trips. You might even be prevented from applying for professional licenses.
Elements of the Crime
Indiana’s DUI / OVWI with a child law has specific requirements. It states there must be an element of endangerment, plus either an alcohol concentration equivalent of .15 or more or a drug metabolite in the blood.
These things can get pretty technical, but sometimes a technical argument is the best defense strategy available. For example, if you’re taking prescription medication, and the levels in your body were within the recognized therapeutic range, that fact can give you some leverage when facing a DUI / OVWI charge.
Different tactics might be available, depending on the intoxicating substance in question. As of 2021, for example, Indiana has a new marijuana metabolite defense that has a lot of opportunity to be developed. Just because the State has charged you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guilty.
Potentially Harsh Consequences
Criminal charges are always bad, but it can be especially problematic to get a DUI / OVWI with a child in the car. Apart from professional obstacles, this kind of charge can create a whole slew of problems for you, including:
License Suspension: As with any DUI / OVWI, there’s going to be a suspension of your driving privileges. Depending on what county you’re in, whether you refused a chemical test, and other variables, it’s not uncommon for a driver’s license to be suspended immediately after charges are filed.
No Contact Order: This varies from county to county and prosecutor to prosecutor, but sometimes the State will ask for a no contact order between the driver and the under-18 passenger. What does this mean? It potentially means you can’t stay in the same house as your own kid. You can’t drive them to school, and you can’t even talk to them, as long as the no contact order is in place. This is one of the most tragic things that DUI / OVWI attorneys have to navigate.
Department of Child Services: This is a State agency, and the chances of DCS getting involved can vary from county to county. Although it’s usually best to plead the Fifth, failing to cooperate with DCS can have serious consequences. Completely stonewalling the DCS investigator can escalate things to the point where they might try to take your kids from you. The State has an interest in protecting children, and anyone who’s entangled in a DCS case needs an experienced attorney in their corner.
Important Next Steps
If you’re charged with any crime, it’s crucial to be PROACTIVE. This is especially true when that crime is an automatic felony involving the endangerment of a minor. It’s vitally important that you hire an experienced attorney who can guide you through this critical stage.
The experienced attorney is going to tell you about the things you need to be doing now in order to improve your situation. They also know how to reach out to the assigned prosecutor and remind them that an entire family will be affected by the way this case plays out.
In the United States of America, you’re officially innocent until proven guilty. In reality, though, prosecutors and judges aren’t very friendly to people charged with DUI / OVWI with a child in the car. Without a good lawyer looking out for you, things can spin out of control pretty quickly.
Make the Right Call
If you have any questions about DUI / OVWI charges, criminal defense strategies, driving suspensions, or dealing with DCS following a DUI OVWI charge, give us a call at 317-632 and remember—always plead the 5th!