Atlanta, GA- Driving while intoxicated is a serious enough charge, and there are a number of circumstances which affect the outcome of the offender’s case, and lead to tougher DUI penalties. One of those circumstances is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a minor child in the vehicle.

In 2011, 16 percent of traffic fatalities involving children aged 14 or younger were caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. The dangers children face by being in a car with an intoxicated driver are compounded by the fact that they are not properly restrained. Data compiled by MADD show that in fatal crashes where a child was killed only 30 percent of sober adults had properly restrained their child while only 18 percent of intoxicated adults restrained their children.

Driving under the influence is dangerous enough—the driver puts themselves and other in harm’s way— but when a child is in the vehicle, a driver can face charges of child endangerment and enhanced penalties.

There are at least 45 states and Washington D.C. which have statutes that allow for additional sanctions imposed on adults who drive under the influence with children in their vehicles.

Those states and territories include: New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Ohio, North Dakota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, Louisiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Missouri, Montana, Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, California, Delaware, Florida, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Georgia, Illinois, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Utah, Washington and Virginia.

There are five states that do not call for additional penalties for DWI/DUI with minor children. Those states are: New Mexico, Connecticut, Vermont, South Dakota and Missouri.

States that have mandatory enhancements for DUI/DWI with a minor child classify these charges three different ways; enhanced penalties, separate offenses and aggravating circumstances.

In states that have enhanced penalties for driving under the influence with a minor the offenders can have their jail sentences and fines doubled. For instance, in Florida drivers convicted of this offense can face up to 9 months in prison and fines ranging between $1,000 and $2,000.

A number of state statutes call for separate charges when an intoxicated driver has an minor child present. For example intoxicated drivers in Georgia can be charged with DUI and then will be charged separately for child endangerment which can carry a jail term of up to 12 months.

Other states consider intoxicated driving with a minor child as an aggravating circumstance which can call for tougher penalties. In North Carolina, driving under the influence with a minor a child is a level 2 offense which calls for 7 to 12 days in jail and fines of up to $2,000.

When you are facing these enhanced charges, you need the assistance of a DUI attorney.