A DUI is a serious crime in Massachusetts, but when you bring kids into the equation, it gets much worse. Why? It should be obvious: Children are considered innocent bystanders in the eyes of the law. They cannot consent to a ride with a drunk adult, and they are often forced to accompany drunk drivers against their will. It goes without saying that this puts the children in considerable danger, and this is certainly not something that the law looks kindly upon. But what exactly are the penalties for this in Massachusetts?
An Extreme Example of Child Endangerment
If you need reminding of why the State of Massachusetts takes this situation so seriously, consider a recent example: On April 11, 2023, it was reported that a father had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter, reckless endangerment of a child, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and operating under the influence. The charges stemmed from an incident that left the defendant's vehicle sinking into a brook. While the defendant got out of the vehicle and attempted to flee the scene, his 2-year-old son was left trapped inside. The defendant was eventually apprehended, and first responders tried to save the child – but were ultimately unsuccessful.
Child Endangerment Laws in Massachusetts
If you are found to be intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle, and you have a child under the age of 14 with you, you will face OUI child endangerment charges. Also known as "Melanie's Law," this charge carries a minimum of 90 days in jail and a maximum sentence of 2.5 years in prison. There is a chance that your sentence will be suspended, however. If the child was harmed, this is only the beginning. Not only will you almost certainly face more than the minimum sentence, but you may also face a host of additional charges. Just consider the aforementioned example: The individual faced manslaughter charges and reckless endangerment of a child in addition to an OUI charge.
If you were not intoxicated, then you cannot be charged with OUI child endangerment. You were simply driving with your child in the vehicle, which is not a crime. Therefore, one of the most obvious defense strategies is to prove that you were not intoxicated. You might show that the Breathalyzer test results are unreliable. You might also call into question the reliability of the police officers. The best strategy depends on your unique circumstances.
Where Can I Find an Experienced DUI Lawyer in Massachusetts?
If you have been searching for a qualified DUI lawyer in Massachusetts, look no further than Edward R. Molari, Attorney at Law. Over the years, we have helped numerous drivers who have been accused of DUIs, and we are well aware of how serious the situation can be when children are involved. Fortunately, you can push back and fight for your rights with confidence and efficiency. Book your consultation today, and you can get started with an effective defense strategy right away.