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What Happens If I Get A DUI With A Minor In The Vehicle?

While any DUI charge in Pennsylvania carries serious potential penalties, Chester County PA DUI arrests for DUIs with a minor under the age of 18 in the car can result in even more severe penalties. People who are convicted of driving under the influence with someone younger than age 18 in their vehicles can face sentencing enhancements. Depending on your record, a DUI conviction with a minor in the vehicle could also be charged as a felony. If you are facing this type of charge, you should meet with a Chester County DUI lawyer at DiCindio Law as soon as possible.

DUI With A Minor In The Vehicle

Under Pa.C.S. § 3803(b)(5), a DUI with someone younger than age 18 in your vehicle is a first-degree misdemeanor if it is your first or second DUI offense.

A conviction will result in the following penalties:

  • First-degree misdemeanor on your record
  • For a first offense, a fine ranging from a minimum of $1,000 to
  • For a second offense, a fine ranging from a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $10,000
  • Minimum mandatory jail sentence for a second offense is one to six months
  • 100 hours of community service
  • 18-month suspension of your driving privileges
  • Drug and alcohol assessment and any recommended treatment
  • Victim impact panel might be ordered
  • Alcohol highway survival school

If you have two prior DUI convictions and are convicted of a third DUI with a minor in your vehicle, it will be a third-degree felony. For this conviction, you will be sentenced to a minimum of six months in jail up to two years. The court can also assess a fine of up to $5,000, and you will lose your driving privileges for at least 18 months.

People will also face at least the minimum mandatory jail sentence associated with their underlying tier levels. For instance, if you are convicted of the highest BAC DUI as a second offense with a BAC of 0.16% or higher, your minimum mandatory jail sentence will be 90 days for the highest tier second offense DUI plus the additional 30-day mandatory jail sentence for having a minor in your vehicle while DUI. This means your total minimum mandatory jail sentence will be 120 days.

Being convicted of a DUI with a minor in your vehicle is considered to be child endangerment. This can also result in collateral consequences in other areas of your life. For example, if you are a licensed professional who works with children, you could be fired from your job and lose your license. This type of conviction could also cause problems in a child custody case. A felony conviction can result in you losing your privileges to own or possess firearms and create other problems in your life.

What If The Minor Was Not Hurt?

While it is great if the minor in your vehicle wasn’t injured, the state does not have to prove that the minor was injured or in danger for you to receive the sentencing enhancement. The only thing the prosecutor has to prove beyond the fact that you were driving under the influence for the sentencing enhancement to apply is that a minor was present in your vehicle at the time you were arrested for a DUI.

Effect Of Having A Minor In Your Vehicle On A First Offense DUI

First-time DUI offenders face several negative consequences when they receive the sentencing enhancement for having a minor in their vehicles at the time of their arrests. If the minor was 13 or younger, you will not be eligible for the accelerated rehabilitative disposition or ARD program.

A first-time offender who is convicted of having a minor in the vehicle while DUI will receive a first-degree misdemeanor conviction. By contrast, a first-time DUI offender who does not have a minor in his or her vehicle will receive an ungraded misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months in jail or probation.

First-time offenders who do not have the sentencing enhancement will have their licenses suspended from zero days up to 12 months. If you have a minor in your vehicle, your license will be suspended for 18 months even though it is your first offense.

The fines will also be higher for first-time offenders who have minors in their vehicles. The minimum fine with the sentencing enhancement is $1,000. By contrast, a first-time offender without the sentencing enhancement will face a minimum fine ranging from $300 to $1,000.

Finally, people who are convicted of DUI with a minor in the vehicle will have to serve at least 100 hours of community service for a first offense. By contrast, there is no mandatory requirement for community service hours for first-time DUI offenders who do not receive the sentencing enhancement.

Can You Still Qualify For ARD?

If the minor in your vehicle was age 13 or younger, you will be ineligible for ARD. If the minor was between ages 14 and 17, you will not be automatically denied for ARD. However, some prosecutors’ offices do not offer ARD to anyone who was arrested for DUI with a minor

passenger. If the minor in your vehicle was between the ages of 14 and 17, you should talk to your local DUI attorney about the Chester County DUI program to see if it might be an option for you.

Talk To DiCindio Law

If you were arrested for a DUI with a minor passenger in your vehicle, it is critical for you to seek immediate legal help from an experienced DUI defense attorney. Michael DiCindio is an experienced former prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer who understands how to defend against serious DUI charges. He can review your case and explain the defenses that you might raise against your charges. Call us today to request a confidential consultation at (610) 430-3535.

 

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