If you are under arrest for a DUI in Massachusetts and there was a minor in the vehicle at the time, you can expect more legal troubles than just those associated with drinking and driving. The state considers this to be child endangerment, and the consequences can be severe. If this is your situation, it is imperative you hire an attorney who can explain your options.
How big of a problem is this? The Centers for Disease Control states that around 20% of child fatalities are due to drunk driving and that in over 50% of the cases, it is the driver of the child who is driving over the limit. The majority of minor passengers in alcohol-related accidents are also not wearing the proper safety restraint.
Because of these startling statistics, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) reports that more states are adding penalties to drivers who are driving under the influence and have child passengers. Many states tack on child endangerment charges along with the DUI, which results in major jail time and in some states, such as New York, a felony charge on the record.
In Massachusetts, driving impaired with a child under the age of 14 is a misdemeanor, and the penalties vary. For a first-time offender, there is a minimum jail time of 90 days, with the possibility of up to 2.5 years in jail. Fines range from $1,000 to $5,000. For drivers who have a prior DUI, the jail time ranges from six months to longer than 2.5 years. Fines for repeat offenders range from $5,000 to $10,000.