In Tennessee, the crime of child endangerment includes driving under the influence with a passenger under 18 in the car. You could find yourself facing serious penalties for a DUI if there was a child passenger in the car, even if the child was not injured. A child’s injury or death makes a DUI a felony.
Tennessee’s DUI penalties statute specifies the punishments for child endangerment DUI in various situations. When a child is seriously injured due to a driver’s alcohol or drug intoxication, the offense is punished as vehicular assault. If a child is killed, the offense would be punished as vehicular homicide.
A child’s injury turns an otherwise ordinary DUI into vehicular assault
If you were driving under the influence of alcohol with a child passenger in the car and that child was seriously injured, the offense is typically considered vehicular assault, a Class D felony.
The length of incarceration depends on several factors including any past criminal history, but it ranges from 2 to 12 years in jail. It also comes with a mandatory 48-hour jail sentence for a first offense. Having additional DUIs or certain other alcohol-related offenses on your record increases the mandatory incarceration period.
In addition, your driver’s license is revoked for at least a year — or longer, if you have prior offenses on your record. People with four or more DUI or alcohol-related offenses lose their licenses for five years.
The death of a child passenger during a DUI offense results in a vehicular homicide
DUI child endangerment is naturally even more serious if the child passenger dies. It is charged as vehicular homicide, a Class B felony.
Again, sentencing depends on criminal history and other factors, but the range for vehicular homicide is between 8 and 30 years behind bars. As with vehicular assault, there is a mandatory minimum sentence of 48 hours for a first offense, and this minimum rises quickly for people with prior convictions for DUI or other alcohol-related offenses.
Your driver’s license would be revoked for between three and 10 years.
The penalties for child endangerment DUI are serious
Even if no one is injured, penalties for child-endangerment DUI in Tennessee can be stiff. Driving under the influence with a child in the car automatically gets you a mandatory jail term of 30 days and a $1,000 fine in addition to the fine for the DUI offense.
If you find yourself charged with a DUI offense involving child endangerment, we recommend you speak to a lawyer immediately.