Philadelphia DUI – EWOC Attorney
Most people think of DUIs happening after a night out. Someone goes to a bar, has one too many, and drives home. But DUIs can happen any day and at any time.
You could be a parent who had a second glass of wine at dinner with your family, a 19-year-old who had a few beers and drove another underage person home, or a grandparent who took their medication before taking their grandchild home. There are also situations where people are accused of overdosing on illegal drugs with a child in the vehicle. In any of these scenarios, you could be charged with driving under the influence with a child in the car.
If you were arrested for a DUI when a minor child was in the vehicle, call Fienman Defense immediately. You may have to fight two criminal charges: the DUI and endangering the welfare of a child (EWOC). Michael Fienman will defend you in both and pursue the best possible outcome.
Reach out at (215) 839-9529 or first or second DUI, and you had a minor passenger, the prosecutor will charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor. If this is your third DUI, and you had a passenger under 18 years old, it is a third-degree felony.
The prosecutor does not have to prove the child’s life was in danger or harmed in any way. Having a minor in the car increases the level of the charge and potential punishment.
The penalties you face for a DUI with a minor passenger depend on whether you have any previous DUIs and a high BAC. The minimum and maximum sentences are higher than if you did not have a child in the car. However, the judge has some discretion in how to sentence you. You should talk with a DUI defense lawyer right away about the possible sentence based on your history.
Penalties for a First DUI With a Minor Passenger
There is a big difference between a first-time DUI and a first-time DUI with a minor in the car. A first-time DUI is an ungraded misdemeanor. You can be punished with up to six months in jail or on probation. On the other hand, a first or second DUI with a child passenger is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to five years in prison or probation.
You are also subject to a longer license suspension. Instead of up to 12 months, a DUI with a minor in the car can result in an 18-month suspension.
The fines go up too. Instead of a maximum $1,000 fine, you can face between a $1,000 and $10,000 fine.
If there was a minor in the car, you must complete 100 hours of community service. Without a child passenger, there is no mandatory community service for a DUI.
Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD)
For a first-time DUI, even with a child involved, you may be eligible for ARD. Admission to this program is evaluated on a case by case basis. If you are allowed to participate in ARD the focus will be treatment and rehabilitation. If you follow the steps of the program and rules of probation, you avoid a conviction upon successful completion of the program. You also can ask the court to expunge the DUI arrest from your record.
In all matters where the minor was under 14 years old, you are statutorily disqualified from being considered for ARD. Notwithstanding, you may still have options and should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away.
When the minor was between 14 and 17, it is still essential to talk with a lawyer. A DUI defense attorney can speak with you about the pros and cons of ARD. If it is something you want to pursue, Fienman Defense can help.
Was the Child Injured?
If you caused an accident that hurt anyone, including the minor passenger, expect to be charged with a second-degree felony. The prosecutor can charge you with aggravated assault by vehicle while DUI, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Child Endangerment Charges
If you are arrested for a DUI with a child in the vehicle, prosecutors in PA will also bring the additional charge of Endangering the Welfare of a Child (EWOC).
Under Pennsylvania law, you can be charged with EWOC if:
- You are a parent, guardian, or person supervising the welfare of a child under 18
- You knowingly endangered the welfare of a child
- The child was put in danger because you violated your duty to care, protect, and support that child
You could be charged with EWOC even if the minor passenger was not related to you. You might have been a babysitter, coach, or another adult responsible for taking care of the child.
EWOC is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to five years’ incarceration. It would become a third-degree felony if you engaged in conduct that endangered the child’s welfare or created a substantial risk of severe bodily injury or death. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to seven years in prison. If the prosecutor believes you did both, then they will charge you with a second-degree felony. You could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.
If the minor in the car was under 6 years old, then the charges are graded up one level.
Alcohol vs. Drug DUI Involving Minors
You can be charged with a DUI and EWOC if you are over the legal limit (0.08) or have drugs in your system. The law does not distinguish between having a 0.09 BAC, THC from marijuana, or a significant amount of a controlled substance, like heroin, cocaine, or meth, in your system.
Society might view overdosing in a vehicle with a child different from one too many glasses of wine, but the law does not. Essentially, the penalty enhancements attached to a DUI-EWOC can apply to any DUI involving minors. So, a mother who overdoses with a child in the back seat faces the same punishments as the mother who had a glass of wine before driving home.
Call a DUI-EWOC Lawyer for Help
If you are charged in or around Philadelphia with a DUI with a minor passenger, call a lawyer immediately. Even if the child is fine, the prosecutor will probably charge you with EWOC, too. You need a criminal defense lawyer to fight for you on both fronts. It is not just possible but probable that a child welfare agency like Child Protective Services (CPS) will want to discuss the incident with you. Do not make the mistake of talking to government officials without first speaking with an experienced defense attorney.
Michael H. Fienman will thoroughly investigate your case. He will gather evidence to support your defense against both charges. If he can defeat the DUI, it may be possible to avoid a conviction for EWOC. If a conviction on one or both charges is possible, he will explain strategies to mitigate the consequences.
Questions? Contact us today.
Based on the evidence, Fienman Defense will try to show that the charges should be dismissed. If it’s in your best interest, we will work to negotiate a lesser sentence. Should the case go to trial, we will fight to present the strongest defense possible for your situation.