Getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence is a serious charge, but it could be worse. If a child was riding in your vehicle at the time of your arrest, you might be facing additional charges, enhanced penalties, and loss of custody. Read on to learn more about what to expect in terms of penalties when you are facing these charges.

What Is Child Endangerment?

When you place a child in a dangerous (or potentially dangerous) situation, you can be charged with child endangerment. Child endangerment covers a wide range of situations, and driving while intoxicated is only one of them. When you drink and drive, you are placing the child in danger. You should understand that child endangerment is a separate charge apart from the DUI charge. The general public and the court system tends to take a dim view of endangering a child in this manner, and that perception could affect the punishment for both the DUI and the child endangerment charge.

Penalties for Child Endangerment

States differ on the classification of child endangerment. In some states, it's a misdemeanor, which means fines and a year or less in jail. In states where this crime is a felony, you can face prison time.

DUI Enhancements

Drivers who are charged with a DUI can not only get an additional charge of child endangerment, but they may also get an enhanced level of penalties for the DUI charge. An enhancement means the potential maximum penalties for a given charge can as much as double. For example, if the state imposes a penalty of $1,000 and a year in jail for a DUI conviction, the enhanced penalty might be a fine of $2,000 and two years in jail.

Loss of Custody

In some instances, cases involving child endangerment are automatically referred to the child protective services. An investigation will be opened to determine whether or not the child is in a safe environment. For couples, the state has the right to remove a child, at least temporarily, from their care. If the couple is not living together, the custody and visitation arrangements may be altered to protect the child. Non-custodial parents may either lose visitation or face restrictions, such as not being able to drive the child anywhere. Custody can be shifted to another parent if the custodial parent has been convicted of child endangering. Often the child protective services will require the parent undergo treatment of alcohol abuse before they can get their parental rights restored.

Being accused of this crime is far more serious than just a DUI. Speak to an attorney that is familiar with DUI charges like those at DUI Lawyers of Las Vegas as soon as you can.