What is the Penalty For a DUI With a Child Passenger?

Any driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can have serious consequences—even a first offense with no special factors. But, not all DUI charges are treated the same. For instance, subsequent DUI convictions, DUI convictions with a high blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and DUI resulting in injury or property damage carry more severe penalties. Another factor that can result in increased penalties is having a child under the age of 18 in the car with you while driving under the influence.

If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced Jacksonville DUI lawyer right away—especially if you had a child passenger or another special factor applies.

DUI Consequences in Florida

Direct DUI consequences after a standard first offense include:

  • A fine of $500-1,000
  • Up to six months in jail
  • Impoundment or immobilization of vehicle for 10 days
  • Driver’s license revocation of at least 180 days (not more than one year)
  • Attendance at DUI School
  • Attendance at a Victim Impact Panel
  • At least 50 hours of Community Service
  • 10 day immobilization of your vehicle

Of course, that doesn’t include any of the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction, such as increased auto insurance rates, a criminal record, and possible disqualification from certain types of jobs.

If someone under the age of 18 was in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the penalties are increased. It’s important to note that this is true even if there was no motor vehicle accident involved and no one was injured. There are separate enhancements both to the classification of the crime and to the possible penalties if someone is injured as a result of operating under the influence.

Enhanced Consequences for DUIs with Child Passengers

When a minor (anyone under the age of 18) is a passenger, the standard first offense DUI consequences increase as follows:

  • The fine increases from minimum of $500-1,000 to a minimum of $1,000 up to $2,000
  • The maximum possible jail time increases from six months to nine months

DUI with a child passenger also carries an additional consequence that doesn’t apply in a standard first-offense DUI case: mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for at least six months. The device must be installed, at the expense of the person convicted, on any vehicles they own or lease (alone or with someone else) or operate regularly.

Similar enhancements apply to second and subsequent DUI convictions. This enhancement applies even if this is the first offense that involved a minor passenger.

For a second offense DUI that involves a passenger under the age of 18, the enhanced consequences include:

  • The fine is $2,000-4,000, rather than the usual $1,000-2,000 for a second offense
  • The possible jail sentence is increased from nine months to one year
  • The mandatory minimum ignition interlock device period is two years

For a third offense DUI that involves a passenger under the age of 18, the enhanced consequences include:

  • A minimum fine of $4,000, rather than a minimum of $2,000

It’s important to note that the sentences and other consequences listed are minimums or ranges, and that other variables impact sentencing. There are also other factors that increase the minimum sentence independent of whether or not a minor is present in the vehicle.

The best way to find out the range of possible DUI consequences and the variables that will impact your sentence is to talk with an experienced Jacksonville DUI lawyer as soon as possible after you are arrested.

Other Variables Impacting DUI Consequences

One of the most common factors impacting the sentencing range for a first-offense or second-offense DUI conviction is BAC. In Florida, it’s a crime to drive while impaired by drugs or alcohol, or with a BAC of .08% or greater. But, not all BACs are treated equally.

The same section of the Florida statute that enhances the consequences for a DUI if there is a child in the car also expands the possible punishment for those whose BAC is .15 or greater. The increased range for sentencing and fines is the same as the enhancement for having a child in the car. But, that doesn’t mean that a combination won’t result in more significant penalties.

Both provisions–the enhancement for driving under the influence with a child in the car and the enhancement for driving with a BAC of .15 or greater–are geared toward public safety. The sentencing judge can take both into account, along with other variables.

DUI Resulting in Injury

The statutory enhancement applied when driving under the influence results in serious bodily injury treats all victims the same. There’s no special provision for injury to a minor. DUI resulting in serious bodily injury is a felony of the third degree, with a maximum possible penalty of up to five years in prison. DUI resulting in death is at least a felony of the second degree, carrying a maximum possible sentence of 15 years. Under certain circumstances, it may be a felony of the first degree.

That leaves a wide range of possible penalties for those who injure or kill another person while driving under the influence. While the statute doesn’t distinguish between adults and children, the sentencing judge may well take the age of the victim into account–especially if the driver chose to operate under the influence with that child in the car.

In short, driving under the influence with a minor in the car means higher fines and longer possible jail sentences, Other factors, such as the BAC of the driver, whether anyone was injured, and any past DUI or other criminal record may also impact sentencing.

If you’ve been charged with operating under the influence in Florida and you had a minor in the car with you, it’s important to seek out information and advice from an experienced Florida DUI attorney. Jacksonville criminal lawyer Matthew Lufrano has the knowledge, experience, and commitment to help you fight your DUI charge. Schedule your consultation right now by calling 904-513-3905 or filling out the contact form on this site.