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Combating Virginia DUI charges with child passengers

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Combating Virginia DUI charges is higher stakes when children are passengers

Combating Virginia DUI charges is essential. As a Fairfax DWI lawyer, I know that such a conviction means the loss of one’s driving privileges, the need to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP), and possible jail time. Such a defense is made more challenging when a child passenger is in the vehicle at the time of the incident.

What extra penalties does a Virginia DUI defendant risk if a minor passenger was present in the car? Combating such a charge pays off in court recently

First, if Virginia DWI is committed when one of the passengers is under 18 years old, a mandatory minimum penalty of five days in jail applies. Virginia Code § 18.2-270(D). Such a defendant might also be charged with the statute applicable to an adult who “willfully contributes to, encourages, or causes any act, omission, or condition that renders a child delinquent, in need of services, in need of supervision, or abused or neglected as defined in Virginia Code § 16.1-288.” Virginia Code § 18.2-371. With such potential penalties, it is very important to obtain the right lawyer at the early stages of your case.

Finally, if the defendant is a parent, s/he may be charged under the statue that: “Any parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the care of a child under the age of 18 whose willful act or omission in the care of such child was so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life is guilty of a Class 6 felony.” Virginia Code § 18.2-371.1. This being a felony charge, combating such a criminal accusation is all the more essential.

Does correct prescription use with an underage passenger automatically amount to contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

In a recent Virginia appellate case, a driver’s minor daughter  called made a call about her mother’s driving behavior. Not long after, the driver arrived home, and nothing further happened other than for the driver to have been investigated for violating the Virginia DUI law. The driver registered zero for blood alcohol content, but did have in her bloodstream a “minimal dosage of the prescription drug Lorazepam,” which is a Schedule IV drug, and is used for seizures. Spell v. Virginia,  ___ Va. App. ___ (Dec. 15, 2020). Combating such a charge is vital.

Praised be the Virginia Court of Appeals for reversing the driver’s delinquency contribution conviction, concluding: “Because the Commonwealth’s evidence was insufficient to prove that K.S. was a ‘child in need of services’ as contemplated by Code § 18.2-371, we conclude that the jury’s verdict convicting [appellant] of contributing to the delinquency of a minor was ‘plainly wrong [and] without evidence to support it.'” Spell. 

What should you do if charged with Virginia DUI with a minor passenger?

If you find yourself charged not only with DUI but for an enhanced penalty or additional counts for a minor’s presence while driving, it is time to start combating the prosecution, and to obtain a qualified lawyer to defend you. Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan L. Katz has successfully defended hundreds of DWI defendants over many years. For a free in-person strictly confidential consultation with Virginia DWI lawyer Jon Katz about your court-pending case, please call Jon at 703-383-1100l.

Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DWI and criminal prosecutions. For a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case, please call 703-383-1100