Child endangerment occurs when a minor is put in harm’s way as a result of a parent or guardian’s reckless behavior. The charge can be very serious and courts show no leniency. If the court suspects a child might continue to be endangered, they may take away custodial rights from the parent or guardian. The government has set laws to protect minors from the above transgression and they are almost similar in all states across America.
DUI Laws that Protects Minors in Illinois
Every minor in the United States of America has the right to be protected from reckless adults. Each state has explicit laws to protect minors, even Illinois recently enhanced their laws regarding driving under the influence with children. According to the State, any individual arrested for this crime should be charged with DUI and child endangerment. In case the arresting officer forgets the latter charge, the State’s attorney office is at liberty to add the charge during the case review process.
Individuals arrested driving while drinking face serious litigations that may result in fines, jail time, or both. When convicting DUI offenders, a judge may consider the following factors:
- Jurisdiction of the crime
- Age of the offender
- Age of the minor
- Number of priors
- The extent of injury
- Experience of the attorney representing the defendant
According to Illinois DUI Statute 625 ILCS 5/11-501, the offense carries severe penalties for individuals with prior convictions. In extreme cases, the guardian is stripped of custodial rights, and the child is handed over to child services and placed in foster homes. A good DUI attorney can help save the defendant against such severe penalties. The prosecution always tries to advocate for the maximum penalties.
If the minor is less than 16 years old, the court refers to him/her as a child. Notably, penalties for carrying an individual below 16 years are more severe than when carrying individuals above 16 years old. The court feels a person above 16 years old has a sense of self-sufficiency and free thinking, but below that age, the child is totally dependent on their parent or guardian.
Penalties for Driving Under Influence in Illinois
Driving under the Influence in Illinois attracts severe charges. Consequences for these broken laws may be suspension of driver’s license, fines, or even jail time. Once arrested with a DUI while driving a minor, the State’s attorney or the arresting officer arraigns the offender in court with child endangerment and DUI charges. Below are some penalties for this crime.
First Time Offender
A first time offender is someone who has never committed a first DUI offense or doesn’t have a prior DWI conviction in the last three years. If carrying a minor, the penalty is enhanced in accordance with statute 625 ILCS 5/11-501(c)(3). The sentence attracts a mandatory fine of no less than $1,000. A judge has no mandate to reduce the fine below $1,000 even if the offender cannot raise the amount.
Additionally, the offender’s license can be revoked for a certain duration of time, most likely for one year. The penalty can also attract a six months to one year jail term, or may be given 25 days of community service.
On occasions when the judge passes prison sentence, the offender does not qualify sentence of supervision. Supervision refers to a duration the court sets aside to observe an offender. If the offender abides to all rules required by the court, then they are released without a conviction, according to statute ILCS 5/5‑6‑3.1. Supervision cannot be termed as a conviction, thereby the secretary of state has no mandate to revoke one’s driver’s license.
If the DUI causes injury to the minor, the court will fine the offender fees between $2,500 and $25,000. Injury can be defined as any reversible or permanent damage caused during the DUI.
Second Time Offender
A second time offense occurs when two DUIs are issued within a three year period, both with a child in the car. The court refers to this as a class two felony. If the child involved is less than 16 years, severity of the case increases and the offender will be sentenced to 3-7 years in prison. Their license can be revoked for three years, but this duration can decrease if appealed for a hearing at the DMV.
If the minor suffered any injury, the court can impose a fine between $5,000 to $25,000. At no time is the judge required to impose a fine of less than $5,000 or sentence the offender below three years of jail time.
Third Time Offender
A third dui offense involves an individual who has committed three crimes of DWI within 10 years. If all three occur within five years, the individual can lose their driver’s license permanently. However, they can petition for a hearing with the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles. Most of the penalty resembles that of a class two felony.
Habitual Impaired Driving
Habitual Impaired Driving refers to people who have committed more than three DUI offenses within 10 years. If they are carrying a minor less than 16 years, the officer should charge the individual with DUI and endangerment of a child. If the officer fails to charge the offender with both, the State’s attorney office will during the review process. If the offender is frequently arrested with minors, the court will transfer custody of the child. Additionally, the offender’s driver’s license is revoked and can face up to seven years in prison. If bodily harm occurred to the minor, the court can impose a fine up to $25,000. Importantly, the severity of the penalties increases with the decrease of the age of the minor involved. Therefore, the younger the child, the higher the penalty.
What should you do if faced by Illinois DUI Charges?
A good DUI attorney can help you reduce the severity of penalties. According to legal realism, the law is the facts before a court of law. The law binds the State’s Attorneys so they cannot reduce the charges, but a good lawyer can help you get a favorable outcome. During the court process, they ensure you get the best results, and will advise you on your rights and expectations at the end of the trial.