It is often that a DUI charge is not a simple, singular charge. A DUI charge can be accompanied by other tangential charges that spawn from surrounding circumstances. A DUI charge is considered aggravated depending on how egregious the act was and whether there was any harm stemming from the offense. An open container charge can accompany a DUI charge depending on the laws of the jurisdiction. Likewise, an underage drinking charge can accompany a DUI charge if the driver is under the legal drinking age. Similar to the charges stated above, a DUI with a child present in the vehicle turns a singular criminal offense and bifurcates it. An additional charge of child endangerment will likely be added to the initial DUI charge if a minor is present while the adult is driving under the influence. A child endangerment conviction may result in harsh outcomes, especially if the offender is the parent of the minor child.
How Does Mississippi Treat DUI Offenses with Children Present in the Vehicle?
In 2012, the state of Mississippi passed a law that included child endangerment as a separate charge for DUI offenses where children are present during the commission of the crime. Under Section 63-11-30(12), a person over the age of 21 who is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a child under the age of 16 is guilty of a separate offense of child endangerment. The only circumstance bringing the offender into this section of the statute is by simply driving the car vehicle with a child under the age of 16 present in the vehicle. The statute emphasizes that the two offenses (DUI and child endangerment) can not be merged for the purposes of prosecution nor for the purposes of applying penalties. As a result, the court will have to order two separate sentences against the person found guilty of both offenses.
Driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a child under the age of 16 is considered a felony or a misdemeanor offense, depending on whether the child was harmed. The felony offense, which naturally carries harsher penalties, is reserved for circumstances in which a child is harmed as a result of the DUI offense. The penalties are applied depending on the type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and the number of times the offender has committed such an offense previously. It is important to note that a third offense of child endangerment in which there is no harm done to the child is considered a felony offense for the purposes of sentencing. A first offense with no harm done is a misdemeanor and it is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or $1,000 in fines. A second offense with no harm done is a misdemeanor it is punishable by one year in jail and/or up to 5,000 in fines. A third offense with no harm done is a felony and it is punishable by one to five years in jail and/or 10,000 in fines.
Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI and child endangerment, you need an experienced attorney on your side. Attorney Ferguson is well-versed in DUI child endangerment defense strategies. Child endangerment can have serious consequences on your parental rights. Attorney Ferguson understands the importance of putting the charge behind you. Call us now for a consultation.
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