If you were arrested for DUI while transporting a child under the age of 14, you may also be facing a Child Endangerment charge. Under O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391, the DUI statute, Child Endangerment is a separate offense from DUI. However, the two are closely linked because a conviction for Child Endangerment under this particular code section requires a conviction on the underlying DUI.
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(l) is straightforward. It states that a person who violates the DUI statute while transporting a child under the age of 14 years old in a motor vehicle is also guilty of endangering a child. The law states that a child endangerment charge may not be “merged” with the underlying DUI offense. This means that the penalties for child endangerment will be on top of the penalties the driver would receive for the underlying DUI.
O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(l) states that individuals convicted of Child Endangerment will be sentenced according to O.C.G.A. § 16-12-1(d) the section of the law that relates to the offense of contributing to the delinquency, unruliness, or deprivation of a child. Under this statute, the penalties are as follows:
Penalties for Child Endangerment Charges
|Child Endangerment – 1st or 2nd Offense||Misdemeanor||Imprisonment for not more than 12 months
Fine of not more than $1,000.
|Child Endangerment – 3rd or Subsequent Offense||Felony||Imprisonment for at least 1 year but not more than 3 years,
Fine of at least $1,000 but not more than $5,000.
The implications on your driver’s license for DUI + Child Endangerment charges can be devastating. This is because, as far as the Department of Driver Services is concerned, Child Endangerment convictions are counted as DUI charges, even if they stem from the same incident. This means that, if you are convicted of your first lifetime DUI with a child under 14 in the car, DDS treats you as if you had a prior DUI within 5 years and your license is suspended accordingly. Further, you can be convicted of child endangerment for each child that was in the car with you. Thus, if you are convicted for your first lifetime DUI with two children in the car, DDS will treat you as a habitual violator and immediately revoke your license.
Because the consequences of a child endangerment charge in conjunction with a DUI charge are so severe, it is highly recommended that you speak to a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney if you are facing these charges. Because Child Endangerment convictions are dependent upon the underlying DUI conviction, you need an aggressive attorney with experience fighting DUI charges. Call me today.