Is Drunk Driving Child Abuse?

Drunk driving and child abuseDrunk driving doesn’t just affect a convicted DUI offender. There are victims in any vehicle accident where a person is found to be under the influence of alcohol. When that victim is a child, the whole situation takes on an even worse turn and DUI child endangerment charges can be added to the entire incident. So, when that adult is a parent, how fine is the line between child endangerment and child abuse?

There really isn’t much difference, especially according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

For every drunk driving conviction, it is estimated that the offender has driven under the influence of alcohol around 80 times previously. In this scenario, it is likely that a child was present in the vehicle during many of those trips, and that child had no say in who was driving them around.  That’s why DUI child endangerment charges exist, and why a DUI suspect may not only have trouble in court or have an ignition interlock requirement in addition to standard DUI penalties, but also face some scrutiny from the state’s “child protective services” department.

A full investigation could be ordered by the court, not to press charges of child abuse, necessarily, but to see if there are any public resources the family needs in order to live a better lifestyle. Drinking and driving often indicates other problems, and the support that can be found through these investigations can help change lives for the better.

Drunk driving may not fall into a state’s definition of child abuse, but it is certainly child endangerment. As an adult, you are trusted to make the right choices when caring for a child, and it’s a “no brainer” to conclude that driving sober is the only way to go. A DUI affects everyone, including the child in your back seat. Make the right choice and keep children safe from the dangers of drinking and driving.

Colorado’s Underage Drinking Problem is Real

Colorado underage drinking costs more than you think.Driving is a huge milestone in a teenager’s life, It represents freedom, adulthood and a responsibility toward society as a whole. Teenagers aren’t always known for their smart choices, however, and with still-developing brains that jump at the chance for fun, alcohol is often a part of the plan when out and about with friends. Colorado has some startling statistics about underage drinking and how it affects the state financially, not to mention the emotional toll on friends, family and loved ones. In short, for every dollar spent on a drink of alcohol by a minor in Colorado, the cost to the state comes out to over $1.50.

Underage drinking in Colorado costs so much because of the behaviors that alcohol encourages. From drinking and driving to fetal alcohol syndrome caused by a teenage mom who drinks, alcohol costs rise dramatically. Violent acts by minors increase with the use of alcohol, and there are expensive substance abuse programs to consider. Plus, the cost of an ignition interlock or in-home alcohol monitoring for those who got behind the wheel of a car and put others’ lives at risk. All because of underage drinking.

Considering that it is illegal for a minor to purchase or possess alcohol in Colorado, the biggest responsibility sets on the shoulders of adults in Colorado. Not allowing underage drinking in your home, and refusing to purchase alcohol for a minor are preventative measures that anyone can take. Monitoring your minor’s activities can keep them from underage drinking, and modeling your own responsible drinking behavior will go a long way, as well.

Doing what it takes to end underage drinking in Colorado and across the U.S. isn’t difficult. When we have no tolerance for underage drinking, we are setting the stage for those important milestones to be celebrated responsibly… while keeping the rest of us safe from the potential disaster an underage drinker can create.

Protecting Our Kids: New York DUI Child Endangerment Laws

Ignition InterlockThere is never a good reason to drive while under the influence of alcohol, and that’s even truer if there is a child passenger. Children aren’t given a choice about whether they want to ride with a person who has been drinking, and the result of that is often a tragic ending that could have been prevented. According to M.A.D.D., 46 states currently have “child endangerment” provisions for drunk driving convictions that increase penalties when a child is present during the incident.

New York’s DUI child endangerment laws are considered the model for the nation, as they require a felony conviction and an ignition interlock requirement for any violation. Not only that, but, any DUI child endangerment charge in New York could also result in a prison sentence, and if the adult driving is legally responsible for the child passenger, they will be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment.

Around one-fifth of fatal vehicle accidents involving children in 2012 were caused by a drunk driver. Drunk drivers are not only dangerous drivers, but they often neglect other safety issues like fastening seat belts for children, texting while driving or falling asleep behind the wheel. In New York, “Leandra’s Law” became the standard for DUI child endangerment in response to these crimes, and has since inspired other states to implement similar laws that protect children from drunk drivers.

It is important to have a plan in place when you know you will be drinking, so that you can arrive home safely. When children are present, however, that importance grows and you’re not only risking your own life, but the life of those you may love the most. Set the example for those kids and drink responsibly, even when they aren’t around, and know that you’re making the right choices for everyone, every time.

Michigan DUI Child Endangerment Laws

child endangermentWhether planning a family trip to Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Air Zoo or taking a weekend to enjoy boating on Lake Michigan, being responsible for the safety of any vehicle passenger is of the utmost importance, especially children. Once an adult starts a vehicle’s engine, he or she is legally bound to provide the safest environment for a child in the car, including securing seat belts, using child safety seats and remaining sober behind the wheel. Because of this, Michigan DUI child endangerment laws seek to reflect the impact a drunk driver can have on a child’s safety and future.

Michigan DUI child endangerment laws provide a level of safety assurance to passengers under the age of 16. According to Michigan DUI child endangerment laws, anyone who drives while impaired or intoxicated with a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle is guilty of child endangerment. This means that in addition to any DUI- or OWI-related charges and penalties, the adult will be facing increased fines, court costs, community service and/or a mandatory jail sentence. For each DUI/OWI offense, the adult’s consequences increase in severity, accruing higher fines, longer terms of imprisonment, increased community service hours and more. If a driver is between 16-20 years old, these penalties will also increase per the state’s “zero tolerance” policy toward underage drinkers.

Michigan is a state that is known for family-friendly travel destinations and seasons filled with fun for all ages. Keeping safe and sober is a responsibility everyone shares for the safety of other drivers on the roads, as well as any other child or adult passengers. Michigan DUI child endangerment laws ensure severe consequences for any driver who chooses put the safety of children at risk by drinking and driving.


Ignition Interlock Devices, Child Endangerment and Passenger Safety

Ignition Interlock Devices, Child Endangerment and Passenger SafetyAnyone who drives a vehicle has a responsibility to provide proper safety considerations and behaviors for passengers. A passenger in a car has little to no control over the driver’s concerns about seat belts, child safety seats or the sobriety of the person behind the wheel, especially if that passenger is a child. Considering that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3 people under the age of 21 die each day in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, perhaps the utmost consideration for vehicle passenger safety is the choice to not drink and drive.

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are increasing in legislative visibility and in the consequences and sentencing requirements for convicted drunk drivers. These devices prevent vehicles from operating if the driver tests positive for alcohol consumption, reducing the ability to drive drunk. Since children are often involved in drunk driving accidents, an ignition interlock device can save lives and reduce the likelihood of injury to children across the country.

For a person who is convicted of driving drunk, aggravating factors in court can include child endangerment and passenger safety concerns. That is, if a drunk driver has an underage passenger in the car, the consequences of the drunk driving conviction and sentence will be much stricter. While this may seem enough reason for an adult to remain sober, there are still far too many children who are killed or harmed in drunk driving incidents.

In consideration of child endangerment and passenger safety, there is also the risk of causing harm to a child who is a passenger in another vehicle involved in a drunk driving accident. Across the country, laws are evolving to increase the child endangerment penalties for drunk driving, including the installation of an ignition interlock device as a deterrent for any future drunk driving activities. Child endangerment and passenger safety should always be considerations of a driver, and keeping safe with an IID, seat belts or child safety seats are proven methods to keeping all children safe from harm.

Should School Buses Have Ignition Interlocks?

School BusParents trust the judgement of school bus drivers each day to ensure the safety of their children, but, not all bus drivers take that responsibility seriously. While it may seem incredulous, there are bus drivers that are convicted of drinking on the job – while driving students to and from school. WBNS-TV reports that a former bus driver in Columbus, Ohio, was convicted of driving drunk, with a blood alcohol concentration that registered almost three times higher than the legal limit, and was sentenced to serve a total of five days in jail and to pay fines, court costs and suspended her driver’s license for one year. Read more here: Columbus Bus Driver Sentenced To 5 Days In Jail For Drinking On The Job

Keeping Kids Safe While Driving

bigstock-toddler-boy-sitting-in-car-sea-14761151Many adults wax nostalgic about the days before child safety seats in cars. Drivers make jokes about never wearing seat belts as children or climbing around a vehicle while it was in motion, and never being hurt. However, the safety of a child in a vehicle is an important lesson when it comes to driving, and through the years, the laws and regulations concerning a child’s safety while driving have become a top priority of many law enforcement agencies and child welfare organizations.

Keeping a child safe in a vehicle is common sense today. The amount of research devoted to the safety of a child in a car or truck has led to laws and regulations regarding the use of seat belts, car seats, where a child can sit in the car, and it has increased penalties and consequences for those who might drive while intoxicated if a minor is present in the vehicle. Since driving drunk with a child in a car is considered child endangerment, a person who is convicted of a DUI or DWI will face harsher penalties in court, no matter the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Because traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for children in the U.S., these guidelines are helping to save the lives of those who do not have a choice about their own safety. Protecting innocent passengers is a top consideration of lawmakers, and should always be a top priority of parents and any adult who is responsible for the wellbeing of a child. Creating a safe space for a child in a vehicle is the responsibility of all drivers, including modeling safe driving, driving sober and wearing a seat belt at all times.  By understanding the regulations when it comes to child passengers, we can all help keep our children’s lives as fun-loving and free as we remember… and a whole lot safer.

Teen Stops Drunk Bus Driver, Enables Conviction

School BusTeen driving awareness education may have more of an impact than we realize, especially when it comes to stopping others from driving while under the influence of alcohol. According to the Toronto Sun, a teen driver forced her bus driver to pull over after smelling alcohol on his breath, then she called the police and the bus driver was arrested and convicted of driving while intoxicated. Upon his arrest, the driver tested at over three times the legal limit and also had a bottle of liquor with him. Read more here: Student demanded drunk school bus driver pull over

The Road to Safe Driving for Teens

bigstock-A-newly-licensed-teenage-male--23071499While trudging through another year of school, one of the biggest highlights that helps motivate teenagers is the promise of a few days off during holiday breaks. These are the times when teenagers who drive are able to visit with friends, hang out at the mall, see a movie or even earn extra money at a job.  Since holiday breaks from school don’t often allow for all parents to oversee the driving habits of a teenager, keeping the dialogue open about safe driving can be a parent’s best friend during these periods of academic down time.

Teenagers should understand the importance of driving without distraction. Loud music, friends, and the ubiquitous presence of a phone can all be easy ways for a teen to look away at just the wrong moment while driving. Parents should understand that their own driving behaviors are observed and many times emulated by a teenage driver. By reducing and eliminating distractions, both adult and teens are safer on the road. In addition, parents, if you suspect a teenager is driving, be mindful of the effect your own texting or calling could be having on him or her while the car is in motion. Offer solutions to the teenager on how to relay to you that he or she is driving and will call or text you back when the time is right.

Since underage drinking is still an issue in the lives of our teenagers, and there could be a lack of supervision during school breaks, discussing the importance of driving sober is imperative. Let your teenager know that you trust him or her, but, that with zero tolerance laws and the chance at an accident or injury related to driving while intoxicated, your job is to keep the safety talks open. Remember that your teenager wants to do the right thing, and by keeping those lines of communication open while allowing the freedom of a holiday break from school, the odds are that your child will remain safe, and sober, while driving.

Safe driving is an important issue for teenagers, whether they have been driving for weeks or years. As adults, we can even benefit from going over the basics of driving without distraction or the understanding that a DUI conviction can lead to an ignition interlock installation and so much more. Keep the holiday breaks fun and safe, and watch your teenager grow into an adult who understands that driving is an important lesson in their safety and that of others.

School Bus Drivers Endangering Children

School BusThroughout the year, many news stories have focused on the thought that school bus drivers may need to be tested for alcohol use prior to allowing them to operate a bus with children on board. reports that a recent DUI arrest in Colorado is a parent’s worst nightmare – and that the driver of the school bus admitted to consuming alcohol and an over-the-counter medicine prior to transporting children to school. This driver had been seen throwing away bottles of liquor after driving special needs children to school. Read more here: School bus driver admits to drinking before shift

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