Parents may discipline their children to teach them a lesson about what is right and what is wrong. Sometimes, that discipline can go the other way as well. A 9-year-old Canadian boy recently used his cell phone to call the police to report that his mother was driving their vehicle while intoxicated.
The incident occurred in a city suburb of Toronto, Canada. The boy was riding in a van with his mother when he suspected she was driving while impaired by alcohol. He called 911 with his cell phone and provided a description of the van and its approximate location. The police were able to track down the van and they arrested the mother. When the police ran a blood test on the driver, her blood alcohol content (BAC) was reportedly twice the country's legal limit.
There have been other incidents of children reporting their parents as well. In another incident in Gainesville, Florida, four kids jumped out of a moving car and ran to a local restaurant to report that their mother was driving their car erratically while drunk. When officers finally detained the women, they reported that she “showed signs of extreme impairment”. Further investigation revealed that the mom had been drinking all afternoon and that she had consumed two pitchers of beer and four mixed drinks. She was charged with four felonies, including child neglect.
These are just two incidents where the impaired parents were stopped and fortunately no harm came to the children involved. However, the U.S accident statistics paint a grimmer picture of the total number of lethal incidents.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety administration (NHTSA) release, there were 1,149 traffic fatalities for children in 2013. Of those fatalities, 200 deaths involved alcohol impaired drivers. Of those 200 deaths, 161 deaths (or 14% of all child fatalities) were the result of the child being a passenger in the car of an impaired driver.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has been working to cut down this number of child fatalities by impaired drivers, and what they term child endangerment. Forty-three states, including California, now have enhanced penalties for individuals who drink and drive with a child in the vehicle.
Being arrested for a DUI with children in the car can greatly increase the penalties of a DUI. When a child is present in the vehicle, the court conviction for DUI may carry greater fines, more jail time and may result in the DUI being prosecuted as a felony.
"We believe that if you're driving [drunk] with a child under 16, that's a form of child neglect," said Laura Dean-Mooney, the national president of MADD. "They don't have a choice whether to get in the car with you oftentimes. We need to make sure they have a sober designated driver every time they are put in the car."
If you are arrested on suspicion of drinking and driving with a child in the car, you may be facing increased criminal penalties. With more than 30 years of experience defending people facing a DUI in the East Bay, Lynn Gorelick understands the local laws and penalties involved. Contact a local East Bay DUI defense attorney who understands the DUI charges you are facing, and is familiar with the local laws, prosecutors and the courts.