How a DUI Will Affect Your Family Law CasePublished: Jan 30, 2020 by Erika Valcarcel
A conviction for driving under the influence can impact your family law case, especially if child custody is an issue. Which parent gets what kind of custody boils down to what’s in the best interests of your child. Depending on the circumstances of the DUI (driving under the influence), it may have minimal impact or end your custody of your child.
The Court Will Do What Is In the Best Interests Of the Child
It’s in a child’s best interest to live in a stable household with a dependable parent. The more frequent the DUI convictions, the more dangerous the DUI situations (high speeds, running stop signs, accidents), the more often you need to make criminal court appearances or spend time in jail, the less stable your household and you’re less dependable.
Factors Considered By the Court in Child Custody Cases
If your DUI occurred when your child was not in the vehicle, the impact should not be as severe. Good moral character is also a factor when a judge or jury decides a child custody matter, which includes considering a parent’s criminal record. The following factors could be considered:
- Whether both parents have a criminal record
- How intoxicated you were when you were arrested
- How long ago the DUI took place
- If there were other aggravating factors such as breaking other laws, causing an accident, or whether someone was injured or killed
- Whether your DUI is just one of several criminal convictions
- Whether your alcohol or drug use before driving is an ongoing, chronic problem or not. If it is, has it been successfully treated?
The older the conviction, the better for you. Perhaps it’s a mistake made long ago, one that hasn’t been repeated. If no one was hurt and you don’t suffer from alcohol or drug addiction, that also lessens the damage to your custody case.
If the DUI is more recent, one of many criminal convictions, you’ve been in and out of jail and you’re not effectively handling a chemical dependency, child custody may be out of reach. Your best outcome may be visitation rights allowing you to spend time with your child, but not live with him or her or be able to make important decisions about his or her life. Depending on the circumstances, a court may order that your visitation be supervised.
What If My Child Was In the Car At the Time of the DUI?
If your DUI happened with your child in the vehicle, your custody problems are much greater. It can enhance the criminal charges and increase the penalties you face. You may also face a child neglect charge, which is a felony. If you’re convicted, your chances of being awarded custody are severely damaged. As far as child custody, it’s not just the other parent you need to be concerned about, the State of Florida may take steps to end your parental rights.
Contact a DUI Lawyer for Help
There are many repercussions to a DUI conviction beyond a potential criminal sentence. They are good reasons to avoid driving while intoxicated but if you are arrested with that charge, effective legal representation could limit or prevent the negative impacts of a DUI arrest.
Selecting a DUI lawyer to defend you against criminal charges can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be. Erika Valcarcel has the experience you want in a DUI defense attorney, having helped clients arrested for DUI cases for years. She has taken many of them to trial and will aggressively defend your rights and freedom throughout the legal process.