Being caught driving under the influence in Pennsylvania carries severe consequences, especially if it is not your first offense. While there are times when a DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor, certain factors can make it an automatic felony. Most of the time, these situations include additional crimes on top of driving under the influence that make the situation much more dangerous. One such crime is child endangerment.
While driving drunk is unlawful, having a child in the car while doing so is far worse. Under Pennsylvania’s child endangerment laws, your DUI will automatically be bumped up to a felony. In addition, the charge of child endangerment will also be added on, which is generally considered a misdemeanor. Nonetheless, it carries severe penalties if you are convicted. Here’s what you need to know about child endangerment DUIs in Pennsylvania.
The Legal Penalties
First, let’s start with the DUI itself. Since the DUI will be considered a felony, it carries more intense penalties. If convicted, you could be facing:
- A fine of $1,000 to $5,000
- Alcohol Highway Safety School
- Jail time of up to six months
- Suspended license for up to a year
- Drug and alcohol assessment and treatment
The court could also order other penalties as well, depending on your specific situation. For example, if this is not your first DUI charge, the consequences could be much more severe. In addition to the DUI, you could (and probably will) face charges for child endangerment. For your first offense of child endangerment (of any kind), you may be ordered to pay a fine no less than $1,000 and complete up to 100 hours of community service.
For a second offense, the fine is increased to no less than $2,500, in addition to jail time of one to six months. If you are charged with child endangerment for a third or subsequent time, you face jail time of six months to two years, in addition to any fines the judge may order you to may.
Other Consequences of DUI Child Endangerment
Of course, there are other ramifications of being convicted of child endangerment DUI. If you hold a job that requires certification, that certification could be revoked if you are found guilty of driving under the influence. For example, if you work with children in any way, such as a teacher or a bus driver, you could lose your license for DUI child endangerment, potentially forever. Commercial drivers may also lose their license for a DUI, and it can be quite difficult to get it back.
Of course, there are also the typical consequences of getting a DUI as well. For example, some employers, regardless of the industry, have a zero tolerance policy for those convicted of driving under the influence. It may also be more difficult to find housing. While you can get the DUI expunged from your record, it is a lengthy, difficult process to do so.
If you are facing a DUI child endangerment charge in Pennsylvania, your best option is to contact an attorney who can fight the charges on your behalf. Call Steven E. Kellis today for a free consultation and to learn more about your legal options.