You can be charged with child endangerment for not having a child properly restrained with a seat belt/car seat or if you drive dangerously while a child is in your vehicle. You can face much more serious charges if you drive under the influence with a child in the car.
What is a DUI Child Endangerment Charge?
Under Georgia law, if you charged with DUI while a minor under 14 years of age is also in the vehicle, you will also be charged with a separate offense of DUI Child Endangerment. When child endangerment is added to a DUI charge, it is much more serious charge than a “simple” DUI. These two separate charges both carry serious repercussions if you are convicted.
What are the consequences and penalties of a DUI Child Endangerment Charge?
DUI charges alone are very serious, but drivers who are also charged with DUI Child Endangerment face particularly harsh penalties. Under Georgia law, the charges of DUI Child Endangerment and DUI do not merge together. They must be charged separately for the purposes of prosecuting and sentencing. This means you will also be facing more potential jail time, fines, and probation, along with your license suspension.
Your DUI charge and DUI Child Endangerment charge are counted as separate offenses even if they each occurred during the same arrest. This means that if you are convicted of DUI and DUI Child Endangerment together, it will be treated as a 2nd conviction in a 5 year period! If more than one child under the age of 14 was in the vehicle, you will be declared a Habitual Violator, meaning you could lose your license for up to five years! In Georgia, the first (12 months in jail, $1000 fine ) and second (12 months in jail, fines costing between $1000 to $5000) child endangerment convictions will be counted as misdemeanors, and a third is considered a felony charge with the penalty of up to 5 years of prison and a $10,000 fine.
Having children in your car will affect the judge’s and jury’s perception of you and plea bargaining is usually very difficult. DUI and DUI Child Endangerment convictions can also have potentially devastating consequences if you are responsible for the care of children (teachers, coaches, day care owners and employees, bus drivers, healthcare providers) or your job requires you to drive (sales, real estate agents, truck drivers, etc.).