Child Endangerment and DUI In Georgia

All DUI charges have serious consequences. The most serious consequence, of course, can be a jail or prison sentence. Secondly, you can lose your ability to continue to drive in the state of Georgia. DUI with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle compounds the liability and penalties by being a separate chargeable offense to a regular DUI. The best way to protect your rights and preserve all defenses is to retain a skilled and competent DUI child endangerment defense lawyer as soon as possible after your arrest. 

Michael Fulcher Law is the right choice for defending a DUI child endangerment prosecution in Morgan, Greene, Putnam, Walton, Taliaferro, Newton and Jasper Counties. Michael Fulcher Law knows criminal law, with over 15-years of experience as a prosecutor, public defender, and privately retained defense counsel. That experience includes a deep understanding of the law of DUI child endangerment, criminal procedure, and an astute familiarity with all the players—police, prosecutors, and judges in these counties. Call or email now to schedule a free consultation with Michael Fulcher Law. 

What are the Charges for Child Endangerment?

A charge of DUI child endangerment in Georgia arises when pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle. Additional actions that threaten the well-being of a child and can be used as evidence against you include:

  • Failure to secure an infant or toddler in a state-approved car seat
  • Not fastening a child’s seat belt while the vehicle is in motion
  • Dangerous driving that places the child at risk
  • Failure to use adequate and reasonable care in driving due to impairment

DUI and child endangerment are separately charged offenses. Prosecutors will include a separate charge of child endangerment for each child under the age of 14 in the car or truck. Consequently, even with a clean driving record, a single arrest can result in a felony charge, habitual violator status, and increased sentencing.  

For parents involved in a divorce action, teachers, coaches, daycare operators or employees, and healthcare providers, a conviction for DUI child endangerment in Georgia can mean loss of custody of your children and loss of livelihood and professional licensing. The penalties for DUI child endangerment include jail or prison time, along with license suspension, including a commercial driver’s license, hampering your ability to work. 

Legal Penalties & License Implications 

Georgia does not permit a child endangerment charge to be merged with the underlying DUI offense. This means that once the underlying DUI is proven, penalties for child endangerment will be on top of any penalties for DUI. License suspension is automatic upon arrest unless you request an Administrative License Suspension Hearing—ALS within 30 days of arrest. If convicted, your driver’s license can be suspended for up to 5 years, limiting your ability to earn a living and maintain a household. However, the possibility of jail or prison time is the most devastating:

  • Misdemeanor DUI child endangerment can result in jail time of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $1,000
  • Felony DUI child endangerment can result in 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine of $1,000-$5,000 

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When you need a lawyer after being charged with a DUI or criminal offense or as you explore your options for filing a personal injury claim, look no further than Michael Fulcher Law’s impressive background, and ultra-attentive client service. To learn more about how we can help you achieve the best legal solution possible for your circumstances, call our criminal defense law firm at (706) 438-1555 or contact us online, and schedule your free consultation today.

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How a DUI Attorney Can Help Your DUI Child Endangerment Case

With so much at stake, you deserve the most skilled representation possible to fight a charge of DUI child endangerment. The key to your defense is challenging the validity of the initial traffic stop and the underlying DUI charge. Here is where a knowledgeable and competent DUI child endangerment defense lawyer might help you maintain your liberty and minimize penalties.

A successful challenge to the underlying DUI charge and validity of the initial traffic stop might be accomplished by:

  • Challenging the reason for the initial traffic stop: was this a pretext stop, or was it based on reasonable suspicion of DUI? Police cannot randomly pull over drivers without objective evidence of vehicle or traffic violations. Failing to stop at a light, signaling before a turn, expired registration, or even a busted tail light might prompt a legal stop.
  • Claiming that no implied consent warning was given: A condition for obtaining a driver’s license agrees to take a State-administered breath, blood, or urine test upon request. Police must read specific warnings to a driver at the time of refusal. If those warnings are not given, the subsequent testing might not be admissible, and the charges might be dropped.
  • Challenging the results and accuracy of the breath or blood test: any DUI can be challenged by examining the circumstances of the testing, whether roadside or at the police station, the state of the equipment, and officer training. The readings on a roadside Alco-Sensor and handheld breath testers are not legally admissible as evidence of impairment. They are not reliable evidence of intoxication. Even the results of a State-administered Intoxilyzer 9000 test or blood or urine samples collected at the police station can be challenged if the tests were not administered properly.
  • Finding flaws in the manner in which evidence was collected at the scene: police must gather and store evidence according to strict rules and protocols. Physical evidence must be seized legally; it must be in plain view in the car, taken with consent, or taken pursuant to a warrant.
  • Discovering and proving misconduct or incompetence by police during their investigation: whether misconduct or incompetence, police acting under authority of law, must conform to statutory and constitutional standards of conduct. When police violate the statutory and constitutional standards of conduct, the remedy is sometimes to suppress the evidence seized during that investigation.
  • The prosecution must prove that each child was younger than 14 at the time of the arrest: separate proof of the ages of any children in the vehicle must be separately substantiated. A critical element of DUI child endangerment is the age of the children in the car. 
  • The prosecution must prove each element of each crime charged beyond a reasonable doubt at trial: A conviction for DUI child endangerment requires the highest standard of evidentiary proof—beyond a reasonable doubt. The driver’s intoxicated state, the dangerous driving, and the age of the children are all essential elements. A skilled defense attorney will try to reframe the story of what happened to contradict key points in the prosecution’s story. Only experienced trial lawyers with years of courtroom experience know how to introduce doubt based on the specific circumstances of your case. This requires an evaluation of evidence and witnesses, along with an understanding of the police, prosecutors, and judge involved in your case.

A DUI child endangerment defense might include a variety of defense strategies. After all, your liberty and your driving privileges are at stake. In addition to interviewing you about the details of the arrest and testing, Michael Fulcher Law knows how to independently review the prosecutor’s evidence, including, but not limited to: examining surveillance videos, police reports, road conditions as well as researching the professional records of the arresting officers. Expert witnesses, medical professionals and accident reconstructionists can be utilized to refute the State’s case against you at trial.

Michael Fulcher Law will analyze your case from a legal and factual perspective: was the initial stop pretextual, are there grounds to suppress any incriminating evidence, including field sobriety tests and any breath, blood or urine tests? At each stage of a prosecution, skilled and experienced DUI child endangerment defense lawyers raise questions that require a full examination of the prosecutor’s factual and legal case.

While the criminal case is proceeding, in order to preserve your immediate right to drive, you must file, within 30 days of arrest, a request to prevent an administrative license suspension at an ALS hearing, along with a $150 fee. Arrest on DUI charges alone can automatically suspend your driver’s license. To preserve that right to drive during the pendency of this prosecution, you cannot miss this deadline. When properly litigated, you can retain a limited right to drive. That means you would still be able to drive to work, school, and to attend to medical and essential needs. Hiring a skilled and experienced DUI child endangerment lawyer as soon as possible means having a guide and advocate who knows what to do and when to do it. 

Only a skilled DUI child endangerment lawyer can challenge any claim by the prosecution that you refused to take a roadside breath or field sobriety test, or submit to a breath, blood, or urine tests at the station. In some instances, this is DUI refusal, which also results in an automatic suspension of your driving privileges. To be valid, the police must read you your rights and warn you of the consequences of any refusal. The tests requested must be reliable and admissible in evidence to qualify as refusal. 

It’s complicated! That’s why you need knowledgeable representation.  

If you have been charged with a DUI child endangerment in the middle Georgia area, including Morgan County, contact Michael Fulcher Law for a free consultation and case assessment. With 10-years of experience as a prosecutor and public defender before opening a law firm, Michael knows criminal law and all of the players in Morgan County and the surrounding areas. If you wait until your court date, you may have already forfeited some of your important rights and driving privileges in the State of Georgia. Don’t wait, call or email today to schedule a free consultation. 

Frequently asked questions

The first and second prosecution for DUI child endangerment can be treated as misdemeanors. However, a third charge will most likely be prosecuted as a felony. If there are two children under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of arrest, the prosecution can proceed with felony charges. DUI, and child endangerment are treated as separate offenses, and a separate charge of child endangerment can be brought for each underage child. Therefore, a single arrest can result in both felony charges, and being labeled as a habitual violator.

Your livelihood is in jeopardy if your job brings you into regular contact with children. If you are a teacher, coach, or day care provider, a conviction might mean the loss of your job, and even prevent future employment. As a criminal conviction, DUI child endangerment requires disclosure on many applications: employment, education, financial aid, mortgage, lease, and professional licensing. Your future can be gravely affected.

If your job requires that you drive—e.g., truck driver, Uber or Lyft driver, employees who use company or fleet vehicles, salespeople, real estate agents, or bus drivers—you will possibly lose your ability to drive, and pursue your livelihood.

If you are involved in a divorce action, a conviction for DUI child endangerment might mean loss of custody of your children, and only supervised visitation.

To emphasize the seriousness of these charges, Georgia insists that the DUI, and child endangerment charges remain separate. Therefore, a conviction for a first offense on either charge might mean a jail term of up to 12 months, and a fine of up to $1,000. However, because the charges cannot be merged, even though prosecuted only as misdemeanors, the penalties will be compounded: up to 24 months in jail with a fine of up to $2,000.

Georgia’s Implied Consent law requires you to submit to state-administered chemical tests of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances in order to determine you are indeed intoxicated by alcohol, drugs, or a combination. Police officers must read the Implied Consent Warning when arresting an individual being arrested for DUI refusal. An officer’s failure to properly read the Implied Consent warning can result in dismissal of a DUI case.

No, a criminal conviction for felony DUI child endangerment will never come off your criminal records. However, a DUI license suspension will age off your driving history after 7 years. Police, and the courts will always have access to your lifetime driving record, so a license suspension resulting from a felony DUI will still be considered by the court in determining any future sentencing for subsequent violations.

If police suspect you are DUI because of taking drugs, or a combination of drugs, and alcohol, they will ask for either a urine or blood sample at the police station.

Urine tests do not reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system, only whether specific substances are present. Urine tests can measure the percentage of ethylene glycol in your system, but the test is not fully reliable. Blood tests reveal the quantity of controlled substances in your system as well as alcohol. Blood tests are considered the most reliable chemical testing option. However, blood draws need to be performed by trained professionals, which makes them less available at police stations.

Yes, if you have more than one underage child in the car with you, depending on the type of driving witnessed by police, and your blood alcohol and/or drug tests, you can be charged with felony DUI child endangerment, and it will be considered a third DUI violation in a 5-year period. A conviction can result in being labeled a habitual violator.

A habitual violator is a status. Your license can be revoked for 5 years. If you drive without a license, additional criminal charges, and penalties are likely.

You might be eligible for a probationary license within 2 years., and that probationary license can be valid for the rest of the 5-year period. To get a temporary license, a habitual violator must establish:

  • A refusal of the temporary license request would cause you extreme hardship, including preventing you from going to work, attending school, etc.
  • You have completed any driving or alcohol/drug programs included in any sentencing.
  • You cannot have been convicted or plead nolo contendere to certain types of offenses.
  • You must submit proof of insurance.
  • You must submit a sworn affidavit that states you do not use illegal substances, and do not use alcohol in excess. § 40-5-58(e)(1).

A probationary license allows a habitual violator to drive again, but there may be restrictions placed on the license that limit where you can go.

Although a conviction for DUI child endangerment does not mean automatic loss of custody, it can impact any divorce or custody case. The judge will consider an arrest or conviction as evidence of your ability to safely care for your children. Guided by your divorce lawyer, the judge will consider:

  • The circumstances of the DUI arrest, and conviction
  • Whether any harm resulted from the DUI
  • Your overall criminal record
  • Whether there is a pattern of intoxicated conduct
  • Whether there is evidence of alcoholism and/or drug abuse
  • How long ago the DUI was in relation to the current custody case

It’s not a lost cause, but another reason why you should secure the services of a skilled, and competent DUI child endangerment defense lawyer to represent you against criminal charges.

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“Mr. Fulcher has been tremendously helpful with my case. Since hiring him he has consistently returned my calls as quickly as he can. We discussed an ideal outcome, and I set about doing exactly as he said. Following his advice we were able to get a very favorable outcome. He is always quick to answer any questions, and has stayed very engaged with me throughout this ordeal. Michael provides excellent counsel, and I would recommend him to anyone!”

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