The state of Louisiana is serious about protecting children and that is why crimes involving children often lead to very high penalties for the accused. You can be charged with child endangerment if you put a child at risk of harm. This applies both to risk to the mental or physical health of the child.

Louisiana Child Endangerment

This means that the child does not necessarily have to be physically injured for an action to be considered child endangerment.  You may still be charged with such a crime even if it was not your intention to put the child at risk. Jail time is guaranteed for people convicted of such crimes. That includes people arrested for drunk driving with a child in the car. You should call a lawyer as soon as you can if you have been arrested for DWI child endangerment.

Penalties

Louisiana’s Child Endangerment provision under the state’s DWI statute (La. R.S 14:98) provides for higher penalties if the driver is convicted of the DWI.  The statute makes it clear that suspension of a sentence and that the offender must serve time in jail. The statutes purpose is to protect children from parents that drink while driving or drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The mandatory minimums are:

  • 10 days of incarceration for first DWI or DUI offense
  • 30 days of incarceration for a second DWI or DUI
  • 1 year of incarceration for third DUI or DWI
  • 10 years of incarceration for fourth DWI or DUI

There are several other consequences for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child as a passenger. For instance, you will be put on probation and may have to pay $1,000 to $10,000 in fines.  You may also find it harder to get plea bargains especially if you are put before an unfavorable judge. However, the child has to be 12 years of younger for you to be convicted of child endangerment.

Underage Drunk Drivers

A person under the age of 21 who operates a vehicle with a BAC of .02% will face different punishment from that faced by adults.  The punishments according to Louisiana law include:

  • For a first offense, the person will have to pay a fine of $100-$ 500 and must participate in a substance abuse program approved by the court
  • A second or subsequent offense carries with it a fine of $150-$500 and the offender has to serve 10 days to 3 months in prison.

However, the court could completely suspend the prison sentence for a second or subsequent offense if the offender agrees to 10 eight hour days of community service.  An experienced lawyer can review your case to help determine how you should plead. The lawyer can also negotiate with a prosecutor to lessen the charges and penalties that you face.  You may also need legal help to expunge any conviction for DWI or DUI from your records so that it doesn’t affect your future job or schooling prospects.