DWI & Child Endangerment in Minnesota

Minnesota law takes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs very seriously, and DWI-related accidents often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. If an impaired driver has a child in their vehicle at the time they are stopped by law enforcement officials, or when an accident occurs, the state considers this a form of child endangerment. If you are facing charges of driving while impaired with a child in the vehicle, you could face severe penalties ranging from license revocation to jail time.

What is Child Endangerment?

In Minnesota, the physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse of a child are all crimes. All these offenses fall under child endangerment law, which sits at the crossroads of family law and criminal law. Typically, the criminal side of child endangerment laws involves an investigation and possible charges against a parent or guardian. The family law side of child endangerment laws could involve an order for protection, a child custody order, and a child support order.

Under Minnesota law, parents, legal guardians, and caretakers can be charged with child endangerment if they intentionally or recklessly cause or permit a child to be placed in a situation that is likely to substantially harm their physical, mental, or emotional health, or cause the child’s death.

The legal blood alcohol concentration limit for drivers in Minnesota is .08%. However, motorists can be arrested for driving while impaired with lower levels of alcohol in their system. Additionally, drivers can be arrested for DWI if they are operating a vehicle while impaired by narcotics.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is incredibly dangerous, and if a person chooses to operate their vehicle while impaired and they have a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle, they could face child endangerment charges as well as DWI.

Penalties for Child Endangerment in Minnesota

If a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker’s actions result in substantial harm to a child’s physical, mental, or emotional health, these charges are typically classified as a gross of misdemeanors and punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $3,000.

However, if a parent, legal guardian, or caretaker is convicted of a DWI offense while driving in the car with a child, aggravated circumstances will likely apply. When that happens, the person could face a felony offense as opposed to a gross misdemeanor. The person could be imprisoned for up to five years or be forced to pay a fine of up to $10,000, or both.

Can Child Endangerment Charges Be Dropped?

The facts and circumstances surrounding each particular case will vary, but there is a possibility of getting these charges dropped or having the charges be reduced to a less serious offense. At Knutson+Casey, we are here to help examine the charges that have been levied against you and work to formulate a sound defense strategy on your behalf. When you need a DWI defense attorney in Minnesota, you can contact us for a free consultation online or by calling (507) 344-8888.

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