What Happens to My Kids if I Get a DUI?
Your Parental Rights Are at Stake if DCFS Gets Involved in Your DUI Case
Getting arrested for DUI is troublesome. You might have to go to jail, lose your license, and pay massive fines. Did you know that you could face stiffer DUI penalties if the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) gets involved?
Picking up a DUI charge could throw your life into a tailspin. Not only does a DUI charge hurt you, but it can also hurt your whole family. Your parental rights may be at stake if you have a DUI conviction. Take charge of your family’s future right now by getting the right Illinois DUI charges defense lawyer on your side. With aggressive defense from attorney Anisa Jordan at The Jordan Law Firm, you may be able to keep your family together.
What Happens if DCFS Gets Involved in My DUI Case?
DCFS is the Illinois state agency responsible for protecting children from harm. DCFS helps parents raise their children by providing a range of services. However, DCFS also has the power to take your children from you if you put them in danger.
An experienced Illinois DUI charges defense lawyer will explain that there are two typical ways DCFS could get involved in your DUI case: driving drunk with a child in your car and having a DUI charge during child custody proceedings. Let’s talk about those scenarios in greater detail.
Serious DUI Penalties for Driving Under the Influence with a Child in Your Car
The DUI penalties in Illinois are serious. A first offense DUI in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor. That means you could spend up to a year in jail, and pay a fine of up to $2,500. But often, first-time offenders of simple DUI charges get lesser sentences including probation instead of jail time.
However, Illinois DUI penalties increase if a child under 16 is in the car when the police arrest you. If convicted, the judge could send you to jail for up to six months. Also, the judge must assess a minimum mandatory fine of $1,000, and a minimum of 25 hours of community service in a program that benefits children.
You could also face a charge of aggravated DUI if you get a DUI while a child is in your car. Your charge could be increased from basic DUI to aggravated DUI if:
- You have a previous conviction for DUI, or
- If you injure the child in a crash due to your intoxication.
Aggravated DUI in Illinois is a Class 4 felony. The judge can punish you by sending you to prison for up to one year — as opposed to county jail. Also, the judge could fine you up to $25,000.
You could have a DUI charge for drinking and driving, taking drugs, or being under the influence of both alcohol and drugs. You should note that you can face DUI charges for having marijuana in your system even if you have a medical marijuana card.
DUI Penalties with Prior Convictions
All penalties become more severe if you have prior convictions for DUI. Keep in mind that convictions from other states can count as a previous conviction under Illinois law. You face a Class 2 felony for your third or fourth offenses. The sentence for a Class 2 felony ranges from three to seven years. However, if you have four prior convictions, you face a Class 1 felony. A Class 1 felony carries a prison sentence between four and 15 years. Finally, a sixth or subsequent conviction is a Class X felony. You could serve between six and 30 years for this crime. However, you should know that if you had a child in the car while driving under the influence with a subsequent offense, you must pay a $25,000 fine. Also, you have to complete 25 hours of community service in a setting that benefits children.
Child endangerment happens when an adult acts in a way that may cause or permit harm to the health or safety of a child under 18. Also, you could have a child endangerment charge if you put a child in circumstances in which the child’s life is in danger. The police could charge you with this crime and DUI.
Child endangerment is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense. You could go to jail for up to one year and pay a fine of $1,000. However, child endangerment becomes a Class 3 felony if you have a prior conviction for the same charge. A Class 3 felony carries between two and five years in state prison.
You could be charged with a Class 3 felony if the child dies as a result of child endangerment. According to the child endangerment statute, you could serve up to 10 years in prison, with a two-year minimum sentence. Notwithstanding, the parent of a child may get probation.
How Does DCFS Get Involved in My DUI Case?
If a child is present during an arrest, law enforcement agents in Illinois have a duty to report this to DCFS. Therefore, the police will call DCFS if you have a child in your car when they stop you for DUI. DCFS must inquire into the situation to be sure the child is safe. Usually, this means that a sober parent must pick up the child at the arrest scene or at the police department. DCFS will place the child with a relative if the other parent is not available.
Your DUI case also triggers DCFS involvement if you already have a family court case pending. The family court judge could order a DCFS investigation if you are in the midst of child custody or divorce proceedings when you pick up the DUI charge.
DCFS involvement could lead to greater penalties for you. DCFS has a lot of power. They could use their power to initiate legal proceedings that remove your children from your home if you have a substance misuse problem. They can also ask the judge to impose other conditions on you before you can regain custody of your kids.
Drinking and driving is one sign you have a drinking problem. Other indicators include your children arriving at school with dirty clothes, no food, or with signs of child abuse present. At that point, DCFS could order you to go to substance dependence counseling or take other steps to protect your children.
Act Now Before It’s Too Late
Facing a DUI charge is stressful, but DCFS involvement can ramp that stress level up quite a bit. Combat the stress by acting right away. Contacting Illinois DUI charges defense attorney Anisa Jordan at The Jordan Law Firm right away can help you form a winning defense strategy. From the moment you speak with Anisa and her team, you will know she is on your side. Call 312-380-9221 to make an appointment.