A Gwinnett County mom was arrested earlier this week for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol. Because she had her four-year old daughter in the car, she was also charged with child endangerment. All drivers should know that drinking and driving is unwise, drinking while inebriated is illegal and that in Georgia DUI with a child in the car is child endangerment. The next logical progression in this scenario is an auto accident that could harm or kill the mom, the child or others on the road. My hope as a Gwinnett County auto injury lawyer, is that this story will be a reminder to all that Georgia protects our children in this important way. Not all states do.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the mom was arrested eariler this month for DUI, but that the second DUI arrest includes the child endangerment charge. An observant officer officer pulled the woman over after he saw her driving erratically. The AJC also notes that in the police report the officer stated that he noticed a child in the back of the car that was not in a car seat and smelled alcohol on the woman. This was confirmed by a field sobriety test. The woman was arrested. The child was taken to a relative’s home.
She had previously been arrested for drinking and driving only weeks before this incident. In that incident, she had swerved to avoid hitting another vehicle and her car became disabled. She admitted to drinking in DeKalb County and was given a sobriety test in the field which she failed.
Georgia law protects children from being endangered while being driven by a drunk parent, friend or relative. It cannot be stressed enough that engaging in this behavior could cause serious and catastrophic injury to the driver, the child and anyone else in the vehicle or on the road.
Under the Official Code of Georgia sections 16-12-1(d) and 40-6-391(1), it is a separate offense to drive a child under 14 years while under the influence. Certain offenses and repeated offenses can lead to prison time. Statistics for kids in this situation aren’t good either, as noted in studies by MADD, not only are motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death for kids, nearly 15% of kids who have lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents were in a car with a drunk driver.
As noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, not all states have a stepped-up child endangerment law as we do in Georgia. In addition, not all courts view this behavior as endangering the welfare of a child. We hope eventually all states will recognize this as child abuse and that all adults and parents will put the safety of their children first and never drink and drive.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or by a drunk driver, please contact The Law Offices of P. Charles Scholle, P.C.. I will consult with you at no charge and provide and evaluation of your case at no obligation.