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DUI/OVI With Children In The Car

DUI/OVI With Children In The Car

If you are caught operating a vehicle under the influence while a minor is in your vehicle, you may face extremely harsh consequences.  Although the two offenses are committed contemporaneously, the Ohio Child Endangering Statute states that you can be convicted of both DUI / OVI and child endangering out of the same incident.

Ohio prosecutors can and will charge you with both DUI / OVI and child endangerment.  Experienced Ohio DUI / OVI attorneys understand the intersection of Ohio’s DUI / OVI and child endangerment statutes.  If you are facing both charges, you need an attorney that will fight for your rights through every stage of your case.  Whatever the circumstances, you have the right to fight your case in court.  Always remember that a charge is not the same as a conviction.

Child Endangerment

While DUI / OVI and child endangerment are generally considered separate offenses, Ohio has a statute which specifically addresses the intersection between both offenses.

Ohio Revised Code § 2919.22(C)(1) addresses the intersection of DUI / OVI and child endangerment:

(C) (1) No person shall operate a vehicle . . . within this state in violation of division (A) of [Ohio’s DUI / OVI law] when one or more children under eighteen years of age are in the vehicle. . . .  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person may be convicted at the same trial or proceeding of a violation of this division and a violation of division (A) of section 4511.19 of the Revised Code that constitutes the basis of the charge of the violation of this division.  For purposes of sections 4511.191 to 4511.197 of the Revised Code and all related provisions of law, a person arrested for a violation of this division shall be considered to be under arrest for operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them or for operating a vehicle with a prohibited concentration of alcohol, a controlled substance, or a metabolite of a controlled substance in the whole blood, blood serum or plasma, breath, or urine.

Under this law, you can be charged with both DUI / OVI and child endangerment so long as the State can prove that you were (1) intoxicated (i.e., that you had a BAC above .08%) while operating your vehicle; and (2) that there was someone under the age of eighteen (18) in your car at the time of your arrest.  If they can successfully establish both elements, you may face a wide range of serious, life-changing consequences.

Outside the DUI / OVI context, child endangerment charges generally range from a first-degree misdemeanor (which is punishable by up to 180 day’s imprisonment) to a second-degree felony (which is punishable by up to 8 years imprisonment).  If you are arrested for both DUI / OVI and child endangerment, charges can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a fifth-degree felony, if the child was seriously injured or if you are a repeat offender.  If a child was seriously injured and you have more than once DUI / OVI on your record, you can face up to a fourth-degree felony.  Keep in mind that these penalties are just for child endangerment — you will, in most cases, be charged (in addition) under Ohio’s DUI / OVI statutes as well.

Ohio DUI / OVI penalties can include:

  • First offense
    • 3 days to 6 months imprisonment
    • $250 to $1,000 in fines
    • 3 to 6 months driver’s license suspension
  • Second offense
    • 10 days to 1-year imprisonment
    • $350 to $1,500 in fines
    • 1 to 5 years driver’s license suspension
  • Third offense
    • 60 days to 1-year imprisonment
    • $800 to $10,000 in fines
    • 3 years to a lifetime driver’s license suspension

If you or a loved one is facing dual charges for DUI / OVI and child endangerment, you need an attorney that understands both sets of complex laws.

Experienced Cincinnati DUI / OVI lawyers understand what’s at stake in these circumstances.  The right defense strategy can make all the difference:  if the State is unable to prove a violation of the applicable OVI / DUI law, your child endangerment charges will likely be dismissed altogether.

Sentence Enhancements

If you are convicted of child endangerment and DUI / OVI, the penalties may increase (beyond what is mentioned above) through what are called “sentence enhancements.”

In essence, sentence enhancements are certain factors judges look for when you are at the sentencing stage of your case.  Sentence enhancements can be both discretionary and mandatory, depending on the circumstances.  In Ohio, sentence enhancements must be served consecutively with your DUI / OVI sentence.

Generally speaking, Ohio courts do not take kindly to DUI / OVI arrests with minors present in the car.  Thus, if you are convicted with both OVI / DUI and child endangerment, you may be at risk of having your sentence enhanced (in addition to your penalties for child endangerment and DUI / OVI).

Common defense strategies employed by the Ohio DUI / OVI attorneys include:

  • Challenging the legality of your arrest by questioning whether the police officer had probable cause
  • Suppressing evidence that was not handled properly by the police
  • Challenging your breath test or field sobriety test results
  • Showing that mouth alcohol, diabetes, a low-carb diet, or GERD might have affected your test results

Defending Against a DUI / OVI Child Endangerment Charges

Even with a positive alcohol breath or blood test, always remember that you are considered innocent until proven guilty.  Experienced Ohio DUI / OVI attorneys understand what it takes to get charges dismissed or reduced.

Our DUI/OVI Firm Is Ready To Help You

If you are facing combined DUI / OVI and child endangerment charges, it is imperative that you have a lawyer on your side that understands what’s at stake.  More importantly, you need an experienced Cincinnati DUI / OVI lawyer that understands the complexities of both areas of the law.

If you or a loved one have been charged with driving under the influence with a child present, the single most important decision you can make is who will represent you in court.  A skilled Cincinnati attorney who focuses on DUI / OVI cases can evaluate all of the evidence and help defend you through every stage of your case.