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DUI With a Child in the Car

Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin May 2, 2023

Getting charged with a DUI is always an overwhelming experience. However, getting charged with a DUI with a child in the car can make the situation even more complicated.  

If you got a DUI with a child passenger, you need to understand the possible consequences and legal implications of this charge. Our criminal defense attorneys at Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin understand the serious nature of this charge and its potential impact on your parental rights and child custody. With an office in Cocoa, Florida, we defend those who face charges throughout Brevard County, including Melbourne, Titusville, and Palm Bay.  

Will DCF Get Involved if I Get a DUI With My Child in the Car?

Yes, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) may get involved if a parent or caregiver is suspected of child abuse or neglect as a result of a DUI with a child in the car. DCF will conduct an investigation to determine if the child’s safety was jeopardized and if the child should remain in the care of said parent or caregiver.  

It is critical to note that even if a parent is deemed fit to care for their child, the situation can still have an impact on their custody case

The DCF Investigation

When a child is present during a DUI arrest, a DCF investigation is automatically launched to investigate any potential child neglect or abuse. This investigation is separate from the criminal case and can have a significant impact on various aspects of your life, including your ability to see and spend time with your kids. The DCF will conduct interviews, visit the child’s home, and conduct any necessary evaluations to determine if the child is safe and if any further intervention is required. 

During the DCF investigation, it is crucial to be cooperative and transparent with DCF workers. Providing them with relevant information and being honest about any potential issues can be in your favor. However, it is equally essential to consult with an attorney before answering any questions or signing any documents. Anything you say or do during the investigation can be used against you in both criminal and civil cases. 

Definition of “Child Abuse” and “Child Neglect” Under Florida Law

It is crucial to define what constitutes child abuse and neglect in the state of Florida, because getting a DUI with a child in the car could, under certain circumstances, be considered child abuse, child neglect, or both.  

  • Child abuse is defined as any intentional harm or threatened harm to a child’s physical, emotional, or mental health. Florida law also defines child abuse as any “intentional act” that could reasonably be expected to result in injury to a child.  

  • Child neglect, on the other hand, is defined as any failure to provide a child with adequate food, shelter, medical care, education, or supervision. Child neglect is also defined as failure to take reasonable steps to safeguard the child from abuse, neglect, or exploitation by others.   

Both child abuse and neglect are serious offenses, and a DUI with a child in the car can lead to either or both charges. 

Can Your Conviction Affect Child Custody? 

A DUI with a child in the car can have severe implications on child custody. A conviction may affect parenting time arrangements and even limit the parent’s contact with the child. Additionally, it may be used as evidence in future custody hearings to highlight a parent’s history of substance abuse or reckless conduct.  

If you were recently charged with or convicted of a DUI with a child in the car and have a pending child custody case, you might want to discuss your situation with an experienced attorney. Our knowledgeable DUI attorneys at Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin can explain the potential impact of your conviction on child custody and help you take all necessary steps to minimize or avoid the possible repercussions.  

Possible Consequences

It is essential to discuss the possible consequences of a DUI with a child in the car charge. These charges are taken very seriously by Florida courts, and the penalties can range from hefty fines to license suspension to even incarceration. Additionally, a conviction can permanently affect a person’s criminal record and future employment opportunities. 

If you are facing criminal charges for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a minor passenger in your vehicle, consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney right away. Our attorneys can help you explore your defense options and pursue a resolution that works best for your individual situation. 

Get the Support You Need

If you are facing criminal charges for a DUI with a child in the car, you might be worried about the possible consequences, including its impact on your parenting time. Get the support you need with us at Gutin & Wolverton: Harley I. Gutin. We can help you identify possible defense strategies to protect your parenting rights and your right to custody. Reach out today to get a free consultation.