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What if children are present during a DUI stop?

Your life is hectic as a parent and beyond stressful. From shuttling kids to and from school, sports, extracurriculars, helping them with homework, managing doctor’s appointments, and caring for sick children, you rarely have a moment to yourself. Not to mention the heavy burden of managing a household, running errands, cleaning, grocery shopping, and making meals.

Sometimes you have a drink or two in the afternoons or evenings to de-stress and relax. You assume you’re not doing anything wrong, and you are careful not to drink or overindulge around your children excessively. However, you had one too many drinks while your children were at soccer practice, went to pick them up, and notice red and blue police lights in your rearview mirror on your way home.

You panic, mainly because your children are in the car with you. You feel embarrassed and ashamed, and wonder what your children think of you now. What should you do? How should you handle the traffic stop when a police officer suspects you of drinking and driving?

Know what to expect during a DUI traffic stop

If a police officer suspects you of drinking and driving, he or she may take the following steps:

  • Ask you if you’ve consumed any alcohol or drugs
  • Ask you how much alcohol you’ve consumed if you admit to drinking
  • Conduct sobriety tests that could be either mental or physical tests
  • Ask you to take a breathalyzer test to find out if you’ve exceeded the legal blood alcohol content limit

You have the legal right to refuse any of these tests – however, many people find that cooperating with a police officer, especially in front of your children, can decrease the stress of the situation.

If a breathalyzer test shows your blood alcohol content was higher than the legal limit, an attorney can help question the validity of that test if the case goes to criminal court or trial.

The officer does not have the right to search your vehicle without a search warrant.

If the police decide to arrest you

If the police officer arrests you during the traffic stop and takes you to jail to await criminal charges, what will happen to your children who were in the car with you?

If you are married or share custody of the children with an ex-spouse or ex-partner, the officer may call the children’s other parent to pick them up and take them home.

If there is nobody to call, the officer may call a social worker to help place the children somewhere safe and with adult supervision for the night.

Fighting to defend yourself and protect your children

It is crucial as a parent to do everything you can to protect yourself against a criminal conviction, especially if the DUI charges or conviction leads to allegations of child endangerment due to driving drunk with children in the car.

This incident could impact not only your criminal record but your parenting rights, custody of your children and could result in CPS (Child Protection Services) getting involved.

Parents are human and make mistakes, too. Even if you took the arrest and charges as a lesson, it’s essential to try to minimize consequences and work toward the best possible outcome for the sake of your children.

Thoroughly researching your legal options would be a wise first step after a DUI arrest, even if your children were not in the car with you.