The State of Colorado may charge a driver with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while ability impaired (DWAI), depending on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels in the driver’s system at the time of the arrest. The penalties for a DUI or DWAI are severe, however, if the driver receives a DUI or DWAI with a child in the car at the time, it is considered child abuse by the State of Colorado. This law applies to any child in your car under the age of 16, not just your own child. To help you understand these laws better, a brief guide is provided below.

Child Abuse

The charge of child abuse will likely be applied in Colorado if you cause injury to a child’s life or health, or if you permit a child to be unreasonably placed in a situation that poses a threat of injury to the child’s life or health. A DUI/DWAI charge is considered child abuse in Colorado.

Penalties for DUI/DWAI Child Abuse

There are two types of penalties for those found guilty of child abuse after a DUI/DWAI conviction.

  • Child Not Injured. If the child was not injured due to the driver having a BAC over any legally allowed limit, the charge will be a misdemeanor child abuse charge. The penalties for a misdemeanor child abuse charge can be three months to one year in jail along with a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Child Injured. If the child was injured when a DUI/DWAI was committed, the child abuse charge is a Class 3 felony that results from criminal negligence. The penalties for a Class 3 felony child abuse charge can be two-to-six years in prison, with a mandatory three-year parole, and/or a fine of $2,000-$500,000. It is important to note that if the driver acted in a reckless fashion, the penalties increase to 4-12 years in prison, with a mandatory five-year parole, and/or a fine of $3,000-$750,000 dollars.
  • Child Dies. If the child dies when a DUI/DWAI was committed, the charge will be a Class 3 felony, and the penalties are described above. However, if the driver acts recklessly and a child dies, the charge will be reduced to a Class 2 felony child abuse charge and penalties include 8-24 years in prison, with a mandatory five-year parole, and/or a fine of $5,000-$1,000,000 dollars.

Some of the additional penalties will include mandatory parenting classes, possible denial of visitation or custody rights, mandatory disclosure on employment applications, loss of your right to own a firearm, and mandatory testing for drug and alcohol in the future.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing a DUI/DWAI charge in the State of Colorado that includes having a child in the car with you at the time of arrest, you should contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Moorhead Law Group at 303-447-1400 or online today to discuss your legal options and how to build a strong defense.