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How Will the Presence of a Child Passenger Affect DUI Charges?

 Posted on August 30, 2023 in DUI Law

Naperville, IL DUI lawyerDriving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense. Any DUI charges can lead to serious penalties, including large fines, possible jail time, and the loss of your driver’s license. However, there are some issues that can make DUI charges even more serious, and in some cases, felony charges may apply. 

Child passengers are one issue that can increase the severity of DUI charges. Depending on whether you had any previous DUI convictions and whether the child suffered an injury, these cases can have legal consequences that will follow you for the rest of your life. If you are facing DUI charges involving a child passenger, an experienced attorney can help you understand your options for defense.

Increased DUI Charges in Cases Involving Child Passengers

Under Illinois law, driving under the influence with a child passenger in your vehicle can lead to enhanced penalties. People who choose to drive while impaired not only put their own lives at risk, but they can also cause harm to those around them, especially any children who were in a vehicle at the time of an offense.

If you are arrested for DUI with a child passenger in Illinois, you may face penalties such as:

  1. Upgraded charges: In certain cases, having a child passenger while driving under the influence may lead to aggravated DUI charges. In these situations, a DUI will be charged as a felony rather than a misdemeanor. For example, a second DUI offense may increase from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class 4 felony if there was a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle. More serious felony charges will apply if you were involved in an accident and a child passenger suffered an injury. Felony convictions will typically carry a minimum sentence of one year in jail, but for more serious offenses, a sentence of several years may be possible.

  2. Mandatory fines and community service: In most DUI cases involving child passengers, you will be required to perform 25 days of community service in a program that benefits children. Mandatory fines will also apply in these situations, ranging from $1,000 for a first DUI offense to $25,000 for a third or subsequent DUI. These penalties will be in addition to any other fines or jail sentences issued following a DUI conviction.

  3. Lawsuits and punitive damages: In addition to criminal charges, you could face a civil lawsuit for injuries or damages you caused when driving while under the influence. In these cases, a court may award punitive damages as a punishment for putting others at risk. The possibility that you may be required to pay punitive damages will increase if there was a child passenger in your vehicle, since this may show that you were acting recklessly without regard to other people’s safety.

  4. Child custody and visitation: A DUI arrest with a child passenger may also affect your parental rights. Family courts may view your behavior as a serious threat to your child’s safety and well-being. This could lead to restrictions on your ability to share custody of your children with an ex-partner.

Contact an Experienced Naperville DUI Defense Attorney

If you are facing DUI charges involving a child passenger, you can protect your rights by working with a skilled attorney. At Law Office of Philip R. Nathe, our DuPage County DUI with a child passenger lawyer can review your case and help you build a strong defense strategy. We will fight for the best possible outcome for your case. To set up a free consultation in which we will discuss your case, assess its strengths and weaknesses, and answer any questions you may have, contact us today at 630-416-7600.

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