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A DUI arrest can lead to a wide range of penalties: jail time, fines, a suspended license, and being forced to install an ignition interlock device, just to name a few.
But DUI charges can also cause trouble in other areas of your life, as one Florida woman discovered when her DUI arrest led to an investigation by the state's Department of Children and Families, reports WCTV.
How did this woman's drunken driving charge lead to potentially losing custody of her children?
DUI With Minors in the Vehicle
Christina West was arrested for suspected DUI after crashing into in a house Tallahassee, Florida, in 2013. When the accident occurred, she had three 16-year-old passengers in her car. Being arrested for DUI with minor passengers can often lead to aggravated DUI charges and/or child abuse, child endangerment, or child cruelty charges.
In West's case, despite the charges against her eventually being reduced to reckless driving (not to mention a $475,000 settlement in her police brutality lawsuit against the city), her arrest still prompted an investigation by Florida's child protection agency into her fitness as a parent.
Generally, CPS investigations may be launched any time there is a credible report of child abuse or child neglect. This can be the result of something as relatively innocent as a picture of an underage girl in bed with a shirtless adult, which earned megastar parents Will and Jada Pinkett Smith a visit from Los Angeles County CPS workers last year.
Increasingly, however, child abuse investigations are being launched following DUI arrests by parents with kids in the car. Whether or not a CPS investigation will lead to your children being removed from your home depends on the specific facts of your case.
Aside from potential CPS consequences, getting arrested for a DUI with kids in the car can also lead to enhanced criminal penalties; it may also limit your options for pleading to a lesser charge or being eligible for DUI diversion programs.
To learn more about DUI charges and the potential ramifications of a DUI arrest, check out FindLaw's section on DUI Law.