Being charged with DUI in Oklahoma can, depending on the circumstances, be akin to a waking nightmare — especially if you have already used up your first-time conviction misdemeanor allotment and are now facing a felony charge. There are not many things that can make the situation worse in such an event, but one of them is if you were taking along a child in the vehicle when you were pulled over.

Not making a potentially bad situation even worse by putting a minor into harm’s way seems like common sense, but judgment is one of the first characteristics to be adversely affected when a person has too much to drink.  Every year police in Oklahoma arrest hundreds of suspected drunk drivers who have children in the vehicle with them; ask most any police officer in Oklahoma, and he or she can probably recite from memory instances of seeing children in vehicles that they have pulled over based on the suspicion that the driver was intoxicated.

And if anecdotal evidence is not enough, then there is the statistical evidence to consider: in 2014 alone, the number of car crashes involving drug-or-alcohol intoxicated drivers with children under the age of 16 in the car was slightly more than 400 (seven of whom did not survive the experience) — and that does not count the number of incidents with children present that did not involve a collision of some kind.

One way to look at criminal laws is as a way that the state intervenes to govern people who prove unable to govern themselves. In this sense, Oklahoma law takes a dim view of drivers whosuccumb to the temptation to not only combine intoxicants and driving but add children into the mix as well. In 2009 the state enacted a law making such behavior a felony in its own right, with an incarceration penalty of up to four years and topped off with a fine that can amount to as much as $5,000. Even non-drivers can feel the effects of this law: a parent who knowingly or negligently allows a child to be in a car with an intoxicated driver is subject to the same criminal sanctions as the driver. “But I wasn’t driving!” is no excuse, in the same way that the Oklahoma’s “actual physical control” law penalizes drunk drivers who think that parking their vehicle will get them off the hook.

The best way to avoid being charged with child endangerment in combination with drunk driving is to not drink and drive. But if for any reason you still find yourself so accused, then the next best line of defense is to seek the assistance of not just any legal counsel, but an attorney whose practice includes a strong emphasis on defending clients in DUI cases. In this way, you can be sure of having the best chance of having charges dismissed, or being acquitted, or at least coming away from the experience with the least severe penalty possible given your situation. 

If you or a loved one has been charge with a alcohol related crime, contact Oklahoma’s leading DUI Defense team at the Hunsucker Legal Group for your free consultation. Call 405-231-5600.  Our phones are answered 24 hours-7 days a week.