Motor vehicle accidents resulting from drunk driving are dangerous for anyone involved. Collisions can result in traumatic injuries and death in the most severe instances.
If motor vehicle accident injuries are painful and terrifying enough for adults, they’re even more so for child passengers. This is why there are laws that levy additional penalties for drunk drivers who have children riding with them because such reckless behavior endangers the kids’ safety.
The danger of driving drunk with a child passenger
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 607 child passengers 12 years and younger were killed in motor vehicle accidents, while more than 63,000 were injured. Nearly a fourth (24%) of those deaths involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
Children in a vehicle with an impaired driver aren’t just at risk because of the driver’s reduced faculties, but they could be at even more risk if they don’t have safety restraints like a child seat or seatbelt. A Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) study found that 30.5% of the time, sober drivers use safety restraints for their children. By comparison, drinking drivers only used restraints 18% of the time.
Additional penalties for DUI with a child passenger
If a driver pulled over in Pennsylvania is charged with DUI, they can face extra penalties if they have a passenger younger than 18 years old onboard. These penalties, on top of the regular DUI convictions, are:
- First offense: A fine not less than $1,000. The convicted must also complete 100 hours of community service.
- Second offense: Fine not less than $2,500 and a prison sentence from one to six months.
- Third offense: A prison sentence of six months to two years.
In addition to these, the driver’s license will be suspended for 18 months for having an underaged passenger. Typically, a driver charged with DUI but doesn’t have a minor passenger has their license suspended for 12 months.
DUI charges are severe, but endangering a child’s life makes for heavier consequences that will remain on a driver’s criminal record for a very long time. When facing a scenario such as this, drivers must act quickly to protect themselves and their driving record. Motorists should seek the guidance of a legal professional at the earliest moment.