With DUI and DWAI arrests approximating 30,000 each year in Colorado, many drivers have sought out information regarding what to expect from and how to respond to a possible DUI or DWAI charge, but the amount of alcohol consumed is not the only factor to consider. What happens, for instance, if you are arrested for a DUI or a DWAI while your child is with you in the vehicle?

Defining Child Abuse in Colorado

In the State of Colorado, child abuse is committed when injury is caused to a child or a child is unreasonably placed within a situation that threatens injury. Having a child in the vehicle while driving under the influence or while ability impaired certainly applies to this definition, and the addition of a child abuse charge with a DUI charge can significantly affect the penalties of this already serious offense.  

Misdemeanor Charges

A DUI or DWAI stop in Colorado may also result in a misdemeanor child abuse charge if your child was in the vehicle with you but WAS NOT injured. This charge can result in the additional penalties of three months to one year in jail and/or fines up to $1,000.  

Felony Charges

If the child was injured or killed, you may face a felony child abuse charge. The penalties of these charges depend on whether or not the child survived, whether or not you acted within the legal definition of reckless, and whether or not you acted with criminal negligence. At a class 2 felony, you could face eight to 24 years in prison and/or fines up to $1,000,000.

Other Consequences

In addition to criminal charges, driving under the influence or while ability impaired with a child in the vehicle can also result in the following consequences:

  • Parenting Classes
  • Regular drug or alcohol testing
  • Loss of child custody and/or visitation rights
  • Loss of your right to own a firearm
  • Etc.

Don’t face your DUI or DWAI charges alone. Our DUI lawyer can help in El Paso, Teller, Eagle, or Summit Counties. Get in touch today.