Law enforcement officers arrested a Gwinnett County woman last month under suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) with six children in her SUV. The shocking arrest came as the result of a tip from local residents who witnessed the mother driving erratically and bumping into curbs as she attempted to negotiate turns in a parking lot at a skating rink.
Reports state that several witnesses saw the mother at the rink and that she was visibly intoxicated. An off-duty Gwinnett County Sheriff's deputy was working security at the time had notified the woman to leave the rink. After getting into her Escalade the deputy then stopped the woman roughly a mile down Beaver Ruin Road. Inside the vehicle were six children, ranging from the age of 5 to 12. The woman is being charged with DUI, six counts of child endangerment, and other offenses.
DUI & Child Endangerment – A Serious Offense
In the state of Georgia, driving under the influence is a serious offense, and one not without harsh consequences. While DUIs are typically prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses, certain aggravating circumstances can elevate charges and penalties. In this particular case, the woman is being charged with DUI and child endangerment. As drunk driving is considered a dangerous act, local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors take cases of DUIs involving children extremely serious.
Under Georgia DUI laws, a driver can be charged with DUI child endangerment if there is a minor under the age of 14 in the vehicle. As was the case with the Lawrenceville woman, prosecutors typically file additional allegations for each child, resulting in multiple charges and intensified penalties. As the woman had six children under the age of 14 in her SUV at the time of her arrest, she is being charged with six counts of child endangerment in addition to DUI.
According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.)§ 49-6-391, child endangerment charges can result in stiff consequences. A first-time offense and second offense are both punishable by up to twelve months in jail, with fines increasing for a multiple charge. A third offense for DUI child endangerment is a felony, and is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. It is also important to note that DUI child endangerment charges are prosecuted separately from the underlying DUI charge, meaning that when multiple charges arise from one driving event, multiple-offense penalties can still be handed down by the court.
Anyone facing a DUI should always take steps to work with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Atlanta. When charges as serious a child endangerment are involved, however, legal representation becomes crucial to defending against crippling consequences. DUIs can be beat, and by challenging the underlying DUI allegation, individuals facing child endangerment charges may be able to beat the additional charges they face. If you or your loved one is facing allegations for DUI child endangerment, do not wait to speak with a proven Atlanta DUI lawyer from the Law Offices of Howard J. Weintraub to learn more about your defense.