DUI with a Minor in the Car: What to Know

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with severe consequences. However, when a minor is present in the vehicle, the gravity of the situation escalates significantly.  


A DUI with a minor can lead to enhanced charges, increased insurance rates, and potential long-term impacts on your driving privileges and criminal record. Understanding these consequences is essential for any parent or guardian who might find themselves in such a situation.  


We share the specific consequences of a DUI with a minor in the car and how our attorneys fight to mitigate these impacts, ensuring you receive fair and just treatment under the law. 



The Legal Ramifications of DUI with a Child Passenger 


When you’re pulled over for driving under the influence with a child in the car, the stakes are remarkably high. Not only do you face the standard DUI charges, but there are also serious additional penalties specifically related to having a minor passenger.  


Florida treats DUI with a minor as an aggravating factor, automatically upgrading the typical DUI charge. This could mean facing felony charges instead of misdemeanors, resulting in more severe long-term impacts on your criminal record.  


The consequences intensify if the incident leads to an accident and the child is injured. Charges could escalate to child endangerment or even abuse, carrying even graver legal implications.  


Immediate Consequences: What Happens Right After Arrest 


Once you’re arrested for drinking and driving with a minor in the car, your vehicle may be impounded, causing you the hassle and expense of recovery. You’ll also be taken into police custody and undergo booking procedures. This typically includes fingerprinting, mug shots, and a formal charging process.  


Child Protective Services (CPS) may be notified since a child is involved. This can lead to serious scrutiny regarding your ability to provide a safe environment for your child. Sometimes, you may temporarily lose custody while an investigation is conducted.  


Additionally, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will likely suspend your driver’s license almost immediately. The suspension duration varies by state but usually begins right after the arrest. You may receive a temporary permit allowing limited driving until your court date.  


You should also expect to attend an arraignment, where official charges are presented, and you enter a plea. Bail may or may not be offered depending on the severity of the case and any prior offenses.  


Potential Penalties 


Under Florida Statute Section 316.193, if a minor under the age of eighteen was in the car when the arrested person was driving or had actual physical control of it, the court will likely impose the following penalties:  


  • Fines: You could face a fine ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for a first conviction. The fine ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 for a second conviction. 
  • Imprisonment: A mandatory imprisonment of up to nine months for a first conviction. For subsequent offenses, the imprisonment period can increase significantly. 
  • Community Service: You may be required to perform additional community service hours. 
  • Vehicle Impoundment: The vehicle you were driving may be impounded or immobilized for a minimum period following your conviction, which could further disrupt your everyday life. 
  • Probation: The court could impose probation, which usually includes stringent conditions and regular check-ins with a probation officer. 
  • Ignition Interlock Device: An ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive may be required, making it necessary for you to pass a breathalyzer test before starting your car. 


Mitigating Factors 


Mitigating factors can play a crucial role in the outcome of a DUI case in Florida, especially when a minor is involved. These factors might not absolve you of charges completely, but they can potentially reduce the severity of penalties.  


Some common mitigating factors include:  


  • No Prior Criminal Record: If this is your first offense and you have a clean criminal history, the court might look more favorably upon your case. 
  • Low Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC): A BAC just over the legal limit might be considered less egregious compared to significantly higher levels. 
  • Cooperation with Law Enforcement: Demonstrating compliance and respect towards law enforcement officers during the traffic stop and arrest can reflect positively in court. 
  • Participation in Rehabilitation Programs: Voluntarily enrolling in alcohol education or rehabilitation programs shows a proactive approach toward addressing any substance misuse issues. 
  • Employment and Community Involvement: A stable job and active participation in community service or charitable activities may help to portray you as a responsible member of society. 
  • Absence of Aggravating Circumstances: Situations such as causing an accident, having additional traffic violations, or exhibiting reckless driving can worsen your case. The lack of these aggravating factors may work in your favor. 
  • Good Character References: Letters from employers, family members, or community leaders vouching for your good character can serve as mitigating evidence. 


Read More > What are Mitigating Factors in Criminal Law? 


Building a Defense for DUI  


When you’re facing DUI charges with a minor in the car, it’s crucial to have a robust defense strategy. Our experienced attorneys employ various tactics to challenge the prosecution’s case and protect your rights.  


First, we thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your arrest. We scrutinize the police reports for any inconsistencies or procedural errors. Were your Miranda rights read? Was the sobriety test administered correctly? Any slip-up can be pivotal in weakening the prosecution’s argument.  


Next, we challenge the evidence. Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests are not foolproof. Our team collaborates with expert witnesses to question the reliability and accuracy of these tests, ensuring that no faulty evidence is used against you.  


Last, we negotiate vigorously. Plea bargains can sometimes lead to lesser charges or alternative sentencing, such as enrolling in a diversion program. Our goal is always to minimize the impact on your life and future.  


By meticulously examining every facet of your case, from the arrest procedure to the evidence and circumstances, our attorneys build a strong defense aimed at securing the best possible outcome for you. 


We are on your side. Contact us today for a FREE DUI case review at 813-280-1244.  

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