The criminal justice system enhances the penalties of many crimes if a child is somehow involved. Fines may be increased, and a person found guilty of endangering a child while committing an offense is much more likely to serve jail time. Someone charged with DUI on a New Orleans street faces the same risk. Louisiana DUI laws make it clear that if a child is riding with a person who was under the influence while driving, the driver could face stiffer penalties.
Louisiana DUI law has a subsection entitled the Child Endangerment Law. This section explains that a person driving under the influence with a child passenger that is twelve years old or younger has endangered a minor and will face mandatory sentencing. The law extends this protection to children riding on boats, aircraft or any kind of motorized vehicle. So an intoxicated person operating a boat on Lake Pontchartrain faces the same risk of a heavier sentence as someone driving down Bourbon Street if a child is involved.
The consequences of a DUI while a child is in the vehicle means that a court cannot suspend a mandatory sentence. Generally, a person who is found guilty of a DUI still has the possibility of a court putting aside a jail sentence if the person completes a number of requirements such as finishing community service, operating a vehicle with an ignition interlock device, and taking a road safety class. Even a person who has committed a third DUI offense still has the chance of foregoing years in prison by completing certain steps mandated by law.
But when a child is involved, options such as diversionary programs or community service are almost certainly not going to save a person from going to jail. And depending on the repeat level of offense, someone could face serious jail time. If the DUI is a fourth offense, jail time can range from ten years to up to thirty years. This is why it is important for someone facing DUI charges to consider legal representation to fight the charges before they seriously impact your life and take away your freedom.