One out of every five children who dies in a fatal car crash is killed by a drunk driver. When you read that statistic, did you assume the child was riding in a car that was struck by the drunk driver? Or, that the child was a passenger in the drunk driver’s car? In 2017, 54% of the children killed by a drunk driver were riding in the same vehicle as the drunk driver. About 32% were occupants of other vehicles and the remaining 14% were on foot or bicycles.
You might wonder why someone would drink and drive with a child in the vehicle–or with any passenger, for that matter. One key reason is that drinking impairs thinking. People often do not realize that they are impaired when they get behind wheel. This impaired thinking is surely part of the reason why fatal crashes caused by drunk drivers have consistently numbered around 10,000 deaths per year from 2009 to 2017.
Illinois law tries to prevent these fatalities through its driving under the influence (DUI) laws that specifically target child endangerment.
DUI While Transporting a Child Under Age 16
A first-time DUI committed while transporting a child under age 16 is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted—and few judges are likely to grant court supervision for this offense—you face the possibility of six months in jail, a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000 which can go as high as $2,500, and a mandatory 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children. Your driver’s license will also be revoked for a minimum of one year.
The penalty increases substantially if a child passenger under age 16 is injured in a crash while you were driving drunk. This constitutes aggravated DUI, a Class 4 felony. It carries a mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 and 25 days of community service in a program benefiting children.
A second offense of DUI while transmitting a child under age 16 is also considered aggravated DUI, a Class 4 felony. If the child is injured, the crime is elevated to a Class 2 felony with a minimum mandatory fine of $5,000 and the mandatory 25 days of community service.
Stiff Sentences for Aggravated DUI with Child Passenger
As proof that Illinois judges are tough on people who drive impaired with a child in the vehicle, consider these two cases:
In 2018, a Champaign woman with a prior DUI conviction was convicted of aggravated DUI with a child passenger after running a stop sign and colliding with another vehicle. She admitted to being under the influence of a painkiller and a sleep aid, but nonetheless chose to drive with her 4-year-old daughter in the car. The woman was sentenced to six months in county jail followed by three years of probation plus a $3,500 fine and 200 hours of community service.
Also in 2018, a jury found a Sycamore woman guilty of DUI with a child passenger. This was her third DUI conviction within three years, and this time she was arrested with her 7-year-old child in the car. Her first offense earned her 18 months of court supervision and 100 hours of community service. Her second offense resulted in two days in jail, 18 months of conditional discharge, and 240 hours of community service. For the third conviction, because of the child passenger, she could have spent to up to one year in jail, but end up with just 15 days in jail, plus a $1,000 fine and 75 hours of drug/alcohol counseling.
Will County Aggravated DUI Defense Lawyer
If you have been involved in a DUI with a child in your car or any form of aggravated DUI, call a Will County felony DUI lawyer immediately so that you have an aggressive defense from day one. Call the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba, day or night, at 815-740-4025. Your initial consultation is free.