When children are in the car, a driver with any amount of drugs or alcohol in their system can face serious legal challenges. This can include arrest for criminal charges and action by Children’s Protective Services. The attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright can help. We are experts at simultaneously defending against CPS and police investigations. We have helped many clients in and out of court avoid the loss of their freedom and the loss of their children.
Child endangerment is a crime under Michigan law that makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while intoxicated or visibly impaired from alcohol or drugs with a child aged 15 or younger riding as a passenger. This crime is charged along with the underlying drunk or drugged driving charge. If there is an accident or injury, the charges can be far more serious.
The penalties for child endangerment depend on how many such offenses a person has been convicted of. A first offense child endangerment is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $200 to $1,000 and: (1) imprisonment for 5 days to 1 year, (2) 30 to 90 days of community service, or (3) both imprisonment and community service. A first offense child endangerment conviction can lead to vehicle immobilization. A second offense child endangerment in the last 7 years or a third child endangerment offense in a life time is a felony punishable by a fine of $500 to $5,000 and: (1) imprisonment for 1 year to 5 years, or (2) 30 days to 1 year in jail, probation, and 60 to 180 days of community service. A conviction of felony child endangerment will lead to mandatory vehicle immobilization.
Drivers who are under 21 years old who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .02 or more with a child aged 15 or younger riding as a passenger could also face charges of child endangerment, even without proof that their driving was impaired in any way. However, the penalties for this offense are a bit lower than when the driver is actually intoxicated (BAC of .08 or more) or impaired.
Our Approach to Defending Child Endangerment Charges
As with any criminal case, early intervention from a highly competent attorney is critically important. We have expert drugged driving and drunk driving attorneys on staff that can guide you step by step through the process. We have learned that a good investigation is important. So too is a working understanding of your Constitutional rights and the regulations that are found in Michigan law and administrative code. While you are waiting to get us involved in your case, don’t make the mistake of defending yourself. This means that we probably don’t want you talking to police or CPS investigators. These officials often misconstrue your words or use them against you. We can stop this from happening if we can keep you from talking to them.
You need to let our attorneys figure out how to defend you. We will do this by working closely with you and listening carefully to you. You can take advantage of our expertise to get you the best possible result in your case. When a tragic situation arises, it is easy to give up hope or slip into despair. Let us help. We will make sure that “no stone is left unturned” as we work to find the best defense.
Child Protective Services
If the driver is a parent or guardian, Children’s Protective Services can start an investigation of your family as well. CPS workers may become involved after allegations that (1) a parent drove with their children and/or other children in the car, or (2) a parent allowed their child to ride with a person whom they knew or should have known was drunk (this is called failure to protect). The Michigan child neglect and child abuse laws require law enforcement and CPS to work together on certain cases, so it is likely that law enforcement will notify CPS that they are investigating a crime involving parents accused of committing child endangerment. CPS will then open up their investigation.
Just as is the case when law enforcement investigates a crime, anything a parent tells a CPS worker may be used against them later. Thus, the best thing a parent can do before speaking with police or CPS workers is to contact a defense attorney to find out what things should be said to the government workers. Your attorney will advise you of the pitfalls that can come from discussing the allegations with CPS.
Kronzek & Cronkright has attorneys on call 24/7 for emergency consults. We practice throughout Michigan including in Muskegon, Alpena, Detroit, Farmington, Macomb, Jackson, Allegan, Ionia and Lansing.