Many people don’t realize that driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol with a minor child in the vehicle is considered to be a form of child abuse by many organizations, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). It is illegal to do this in every state, though each state has their own specific laws and guidelines for the punishments and the age limit for what constitutes a minor child. You can also be charged with separate crimes, including child endangerment.
How Big of a Problem are Kansas City, Missouri, DWIs with Children in the Car?
The CDC reported that close to 2,500 children under 15 years old were killed by the actions of drunk drivers in the United States. The NHTSA further revealed that in 2014 alone, there were nearly 210 child deaths caused by DWI, with more than half of them being passengers in the vehicle where the driver was over the legal limit to drive (.08+ BAC). In many of these cases, the children were also not restrained properly by the intoxicated driver. The comparison between proper child restraints in vehicles of those who are sober versus those who are intoxicated is over 30% for sober drivers and only 18% for intoxicated drivers. This compounds the risk of child death in Kansas City, Missouri, DWI cases.
How Leandra’s Law in New York Paved the Way for Child Endangerment Laws for DWI
While Leandra’s Law is something that the state of New York came up with, concerning DUIs (Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol) and child endangerment, it set the tone and created a model for other states. Leandra’s Law was enacted by New York in 2009 to provide comprehensive laws concerning child endangerment by intoxicated drivers with a child in the car. They made this crime a felony, and it is also a felony in Kansas City, Missouri, DWI cases. In New York, the age limit that constitutes a minor child in a vehicle with a DUI driver is 16 years old. Anyone who is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child under the age of 16 years old for the first time offense can be charged with a class E felony. This comes with a sentence of up to four years in prison.
The accused driver will also have their license suspended until the case is resolved. Anyone who actually causes the death of a child under the age of 16 with a DUI in New York can be charged with a class B felony, which comes with up to 25 years of imprisonment. If any physical injury is caused to a child in such cases, then they can be charged with a class C felony with a prison sentence up to 15 years. If the driver is a parent or guardian of the child in question, then they will also be reported by the arresting agency to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.
How the Law Works in Kansas City, Missouri DWI Cases Involving Child Passengers
In Kansas City, Missouri, DWI cases involving child passengers, the age limit that constitutes a minor child is 17 years old, and those who are caught in this position could face a class A misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on the situation, the age of the child, and the level of the offense. Any driver with a BAC of .08% or higher with a minor child in the car can face more serious penalties than the initial DWI charge would typically carry. With any children under the age of 17, the penalty can come with at least one additional month in prison for the DWI charge. This is a sentence that has to be served consecutively, so that you cannot serve multiple sentences at the same time where children are involved and endangered by the actions of a DWI driver. The circumstance of having children in the vehicle while driving while intoxicated also automatically disqualifies the accused from being eligible for any kind of pre-trial diversion programs. In some cases, the judge can order house arrest or work release as conditional release options, though this is not always the case and judges often do not look kindly on those who endanger the lives of child passengers by driving drunk.
There are Multiple Degrees of Child Endangerment with DWI in Kansas City, Missouri
It is important to understand that DWI drivers in Kansas City, Missouri, with a BAC of .08% or higher can also be charged with child endangerment on multiple levels. If someone knowingly endangers a child by behaving in such a way that there is a significant risk to the life or health of the child who is under 17 years old, then this is child endangerment in the first degree. Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol with a minor child in the vehicle is certainly considered to be knowingly endangering the life and health of the child. When someone behaves with criminal negligence in such a way that the welfare, life, and health of a child under the age of 17 years old is endangered, then this constitutes child endangerment in the second degree, which is more common in DWI cases in Kansas City, Missouri. Getting a DWI charge that involves a child under the age of 17 years old in the vehicle will disqualify the accused from receiving any kind of suspended sentence.
Contact the Kansas City, Missouri, DWI Attorneys at Hollingshead & Dudley Trial Lawyers
If you are facing DWI charges in Kansas City, Missouri, then you need a skilled attorney to get you the best possible outcome. If there was a child in the vehicle at the time of your DWI, then you need to be prepared with the best legal defense possible. Contact the Kansas City, Missouri, DWI attorneys at Hollingshead & Dudley Trial Lawyers to get a free consultation and learn more about your options.