In North Carolina, there are a number of aggravating factors which can increase the penalties for a DUI charge. One of these is having a child passenger in the car. It is not uncommon for a parent to be arrested on this charge after taking the family out to dinner and having a couple of glasses of wine or beer. Many people who find themselves in this situation have never been arrested before, and it can be a scary and humiliating experience.
Under the North Carolina statutes, it is an aggravating factor in a DUI case when the defendant has a person under the age of 18 in the car at the time of the arrest. The statute also applies if there is a passenger in the car with the mental capacity of someone under 18, or a disabled person who would be unable to get out of the car without assistance in the event of an accident.
When a person is convicted of driving while intoxicated and the jury has found the child passenger statute was violated, the judge is required to impose a Level One sentence.
This means a fine of up to $4,000 and a jail sentence of at least 30 days and up to two years.
Fortunately, child passenger DUI cases can be defended just like any other DUI case. An experienced DUI defense lawyer will scrutinize the arrest record and look for any possible weaknesses in the arrest procedure or the prosecution’s evidence. Breath test evidence can be challenged if the machine was not properly calibrated or the correct test protocol not followed.