Practice Areas

DUI Child Endangerment

Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or controlled substances is already a serious offense with considerable penalties in Pennsylvania. However, if a child is present in the vehicle at the time of the DUI offense, the consequences become much more severe. This is a specialized area of DUI law known as DUI -Child Endangerment, and it’s crucial to understand the gravity of such charges.

At Chieppor & Egner LLC, we can help with DUI cases of all types, including those involving child endangerment. Our experienced attorneys, Jonathan Chieppor and Alex Egner, bring unique insights from their years serving as prosecutors in Lancaster County. This experience is valuable in building a solid defense strategy for your case.

Understanding the Pennsylvania Statute

According to Pennsylvania’s DUI statutes, particularly Section 3803(b) of the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code, a DUI charge becomes a more serious misdemeanor of the first degree if a minor under the age of 18 is a passenger in the vehicle. Under normal circumstances, a DUI is a misdemeanor of the second degree. The elevated charge can result in increased fines, longer terms of imprisonment, and additional requirements for drug and alcohol treatment programs.

What This Means for You

If you’re facing a DUI -Child Endangerment charge, the penalties are far more stringent. You could be looking at:

  • Substantial fines: Fines for a misdemeanor of the first degree can range up to $10,000. However, this does not include the fine for the child endangerment charge, which can be at least $1,000 for the first offense.
  • Longer jail time: Convictions can result in up to 5 years of imprisonment.
  • Mandatory treatment programs: An assessment for drug and alcohol addiction and subsequent treatment programs may be required.
  • Custody implications: Such a charge could adversely affect your child’s custody or visitation rights.
  • Additional Charges: Police could choose to add additional charges, such as Endangering the Welfare of Children and Recklessly Endangering Another Person, which come with their own set of complications.

Building a Strong Defense

When you’re faced with a DUI -Child Endangerment charge, the complexity of your case increases substantially. Unlike a standard DUI, you’re confronted with multiple accusations: not only were you allegedly driving under the influence, but you also purportedly placed a child’s life at risk. Given the multidimensional nature of this case, our defense strategy at Chieppor & Egner LLC is also multifaceted and aims to dismantle the prosecution’s claims at every level.

Challenging DUI Evidence

Our first line of defense is always to scrutinize the evidence that led to your DUI charge.
  • Field Sobriety Tests: As former prosecutors who are state-certified to perform field Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs), Jonathan Cheippor and Alex Egner have received the same training and completed the same course that police go through. As a result, we understand the limitations and flaws inherent in these tests. We’ll evaluate how the tests were administered and whether the results are reliable enough to stand in court.
  • Breathalyzer and Blood Tests: We review the calibration and maintenance records of the breathalyzer machines and assess the protocol followed during blood sample collection and testing. Any inconsistencies or errors could lead to the suppression of this evidence.
  • Probable Cause for Stop: Law enforcement must have a valid reason for initiating a traffic stop. We will evaluate whether the officers had probable cause to pull you over in the first place, as any infringement on this can result in the dismissal of the case.

Questioning the Endangerment Aspect

Being charged with a DUI while a child is in the vehicle does not automatically prove child endangerment. For the latter charge to stick, the prosecution must demonstrate that you knowingly and recklessly put the child’s well-being at risk.

  • Criteria for Endangerment: Pennsylvania’s child endangerment statute has specific definitions and criteria that must be met for a conviction. We challenge the prosecution’s case by scrutinizing whether these criteria are indeed satisfied.
  • Passenger’s Relation to the Driver: We may also explore whether the child was under your care or custody at the time, as Pennsylvania law often considers this factor in child endangerment cases
  • Environmental Factors: Was the child securely fastened in an age-appropriate car seat? Were the driving conditions hazardous? We investigate these environmental factors to determine if they contribute to the endangerment charges.

Additional Defenses

  • Witness Testimony: Sometimes, the statements of eyewitnesses or passengers can shed new light on the case. Their testimony can be crucial in discrediting the prosecution’s narrative.
  • Medical and Psychological Evidence: In some situations, medical records can reveal that your perceived impairment was due to a medical condition or prescription medication rather than alcohol or drug use.
  • Chain of Custody: We trace the chain of custody for all evidence, such as blood samples, to ensure there are no contaminations or mix-ups that could compromise the integrity of the evidence.
  • Legal Loopholes and Technicalities: Whether it’s missing paperwork, lapsed deadlines, or improperly filed charges, administrative errors can sometimes provide a defense avenue. We leave no stone unturned.

At Chieppor & Egner LLC, we leverage our prosecutorial experience to predict the strategies the prosecution may use. This comprehensive, multi-angle approach is designed to disassemble the prosecution’s case and defend your rights.

Post-Conviction Ramifications

Being convicted of a DUI -Child Endangerment charge can have repercussions that go far beyond the immediate penalties of fines, imprisonment, or treatment programs. The societal, emotional, and professional toll it takes can be even more devastating in the long run. At Chieppor & Egner LLC, we understand that the stakes are high, and we strive to prevent these long-term consequences from affecting your life.

Impact on Employment

A DUI -ChildEndangerment conviction will inevitably appear on background checks, making it much more difficult to secure a job or even keep your current position. Certain professions, especially those involving transportation, education, and healthcare, may have regulations that make it impossible for someone with such a conviction to continue in their role. Some professional licenses may be suspended or revoked as a result of the conviction, requiring you to change career paths altogether.

Social Stigma

The societal implications of a DUI -Child Endangerment conviction can be harsh. The perception that you not only drove under the influence but also put a child’s life at risk can lead to lasting damage to your reputation. This could result in the loss of friendships and strained family relationships. It could even affect your standing in your community.

Child Custody and Visitation Rights

Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking consequences of a DUI -Child Endangerment conviction is the potential impact on child custody arrangements. Courts may consider the conviction as evidence that you’re an unfit parent, which could lead to loss of custody or changes in visitation rights. This could have long-term psychological and emotional effects on both you and your children.

Impact on Insurance

Your auto insurance premiums are likely to soar following a DUI -Child Endangerment conviction. In some instances, insurance companies may deem you too high a risk and terminate your policy altogether.

Time is of the Essence

If you’re facing a DUI -Child Endangerment charge, time is not on your side. You need to consult with experienced legal professionals as soon as possible to begin the process of crafting a strong defense. At Chieppor & Egner LLC, we understand the urgency and complexity of such cases. We aim to provide immediate assistance to help you with DUI -Child Endangerment charges.

Contact a Lancaster DUI Lawyer

Being charged with DUI -Child Endangerment is a serious matter with potentially devastating consequences. Entrust your case to the attorneys at Chieppor & Egner LLC, who can provide an aggressive, informed defense designed to challenge the evidence and protect your rights at every turn.

To schedule a consultation, call 717-393-1400 or complete our online inquiry form. We’re here to help you when it matters most.