The penalties for driving while intoxicated in Massachusetts are harsh, but they become even more serious when a child is involved. If you were charged with OUI of drugs or alcohol and you had a child passenger in your car, you face life-changing penalties.
Here’s what you need to know about getting pulled over for drinking and driving with a child in the vehicle and how to legally protect yourself.
Child Endangerment While OUI
Like most states, Massachusetts imposes harsher penalties on individuals who are charged with operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs when there is a child in the vehicle. The charge is Child Endangerment While OUI and applies when there is a minor age 14 or under in the vehicle with an adult who is driving while intoxicated.
The penalties for a first offense include a mandatory minimum of 90 days in a county jail but potentially up to 2.5 years in prison depending on the case. You will also be ordered to pay a fine of at least $1,000 but possibly up to $5,000.
A second offense of Child Endangerment While OUI is considered an automatic felony and the penalties are even more severe. The mandatory minimum incarceration time is at least six (6) months, a minimum of 3 years incarceration, and a minimum fine of $5,000. Maximum penalties include 2.5 years in a county jail or 3 to 5 years in a Massachusetts state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
How to Defend Yourself In an OUI Case
There are several potential defenses you can mount in an OUI case, whether there was a child in the vehicle or not. For example, you may be able to challenge:
- The validity of the breathalyzer test or other chemical testing
- The validity of the officer’s observations
- Whether or not the officer had enough probable cause to pull your vehicle over
- That the person you were traveling with in the car wasn’t a minor
Ideally, your defense will weaken the evidence against you and create doubt so a jury will have a much harder time convicting you.
How an Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you were arrested and charged with Child Endangerment While OUI, don’t hesitate to get legal assistance. Call our office today for an appointment at 413.737.9700 (Springfield), 413.585.9200 (Northampton), or 413.549.0022 (Amherst).