If you were arrested in West Virginia for DUI and had a child in your vehicle, you were probably charged with an additional criminal charge of WV DUI child endangerment, also known as a DUI with minor. This type of child endangerment legislation exists in 45 states, and many states make DUI with child in car a felony offense.
Most states’ child endangerment laws set the age of the child at “under age 14,” but the West Virginia legislature has a broader and more encompassing statute.
WV courts can be especially harsh on anyone who drives under the influence of alcohol or drugs with their children, or someone else’s children. Jurors are also quick to convict in these situations, since most will openly tell the DUI defense lawyers (during voir dire) that he or she could not imagine risking their child’s safety by driving drunk, plus face an endangerment charge by having their child in the vehicle.
Just like any driving under the influence charge mandates hiring the best WV DUI attorney, having an endangerment charge only further reinforces that necessity. The penalties for child endangerment, assuming this is your first WV DUI, are:
Jail Time (48 hours up to 12 months)
- Up to $1,000 in court fines – minimum $200
12 months driver’s license suspension (reduced to 2 months with a 10 month ignition interlock device)
Mandatory enrollment in the WV Safety and Treatment Program
What Is an Ignition Interlock Device (Blow and Go)?
The ignition interlock is similar technology to the portable breathalyzer that an officer used to determine if you were driving under the influence of alcohol. An interlock is part of the Alcohol Test and Lock Program, or WV ATLP.
An ignition interlock must be installed on all cars you own and plan to drive. You must have this ignition interlock device installed by a WV State-approved company. Your vehicle will not start if the device detects alcohol in your alcohol breath test. It does this by having you blow into a tube that then measures and records your blood alcohol content, or BAC. A data storage device notes the date, time, and BAC results from WV State-approved ignition interlock devices, and you are required to go to a service center every 30 days to have them download the stored data.
These recordings of your BAC level can be used in court against you. WV DUI attorney Harley Wagner can explain the pros and cons of choosing to install an interlock device on all the vehicles you plan to drive, instead of choosing to have your driver’s license suspended for a longer period.
Mandatory Jail Time for DUI Child Endangerment WV
Mandatory DUI jail time follows a child endangerment conviction. As indicated above, 48 hours in jail is mandated. Any time you spent in jail on the night of your DUI arrest will be deducted from your DUI jail time sentence upon conviction for child endangerment.
For example, if you were in jail for 6 hours after being booked into the facility, and upon your conviction, the judge sentences you to 48 hours in jail, you typically must only serve 42 more hours.
With a bad set of case facts, such as a fender bender accident or sloppy, drunken behavior toward the police officer, a Judge may decide to make an example of you, and add more jail time (up to a full year) for egregious circumstances.
WV DUI State laws are amended constantly, and the level of penalties can and do change for the many types of driving while intoxicated charges. The field of child endangerment laws will likely be one of these modifications of WV DUI laws. Most other states either make this offense a felony or require substantially more mandatory DUI jail time for an endangerment case. Harley Wagner stays on top of all the latest laws passed, and is an invaluable resource for you during this most trying time.
Drunk Driving With Endangerment Requires Getting the Best West Virginia DUI Lawyer
Criminal defense attorney Harley Wagner will go over your particular DUI WV case details and advise you on the best choices to make when facing child endangerment charges. For example, some clients (after seeing the high cost of ignition interlock installation and maintenance) choose to have their driver’s license suspended for one year versus having to install an expensive ignition interlock on more than one car.
Do not face a DUI child endangerment charge in court alone. Call our DUI law firm at (304) 901-7400 today. The Wagner Law Firm is based in Martinsburg, WV but we will travel to your Circuit Court or Municipal Court location anywhere in West Virginia, including in:
- Charles Town
- South Charleston
- Oak Hill