Can a DUI Conviction Affect Child Custody?

By Jonathan Blecher on April 18, 2017

If you were recently arrested for DUI and child custody is an issue, you may be wondering if a DUI conviction could have an impact on child custody, and understandably so! Are you worried that if your children’s other parent learns of your DUI, that they will use this as an opportunity to gain custody? Unfortunately, a DUI conviction can have a bearing on child custody proceedings but it all depends on the facts of the case.

Why a DUI Could Pose a Problem

In theory, each child custody case boils down to the best interests of the children. Because good moral character is relevant to this determination, anyone with a criminal conviction may find a DUI a major factor in any subsequent child custody proceeding.

The court will consider the following factors:

  • The criminal history of both parents
  • The nature of the criminal offense
  • Your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest
  • If your child was in the vehicle with you
  • The age of the DUI conviction
  • If there were other aggravating factors (e.g. if someone was hurt or killed)
  • If you have multiple criminal convictions

Even though a DUI conviction is not a crime of violence, any drug or alcohol-related conviction can impact a child custody case. This is because family law judges view driving under the influence as reckless behavior that endangers minor children.

If the DUI conviction is old, you can present evidence proving that it was an isolated event. The judge’s focus will then shift on present day circumstances. In contrast, a recent DUI conviction shows poor judgment or dangerous behavior and will be more difficult to overcome in a child custody proceeding.

If you are sentenced to jail, especially for a second or subsequent DUI offense, the court will be concerned over how a sentence will create a stability issue for your children.

Generally, the family courts don’t like it when a child has to bounce around from relative to relative while you’re in jail. If your child’s other parent can establish that they can provide a stable environment, then your ex has a better chance of gaining full custody. If the custody battle is close, a DUI conviction can be the final factor that tips the scales in your ex’s favor.

If you are facing DUI charges in Miami and are concerned about how a DUI conviction would impact your child custody case, contact me, Jonathan Blecher to work with a former prosecutor with over 30 years of experience! Call 305-321-3237 today.

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