Can a DUI Affect Child Custody?

By Jonathan Blecher on February 11, 2019

Child custody cases are common during and after a divorce, but they can also arise in a paternity action or in situations where the mother and father were never married, but paternity has been legally established.

If you are a mother or a father in Miami-Dade County or anywhere else in Florida and you are involved in a family law case involving child custody and you’re arrested for DUI, you may be worried about how your DUI case might impact your child custody case, and reasonably so.

Can a DUI negatively impact child custody? Yes, absolutely, but it depends on the facts of the case. Read on as I go into further detail on this issue.

How Recent is the DUI?

Suppose your ex heard about your DUI and now he or she is trying to use that against you to win custody of your child. If your ex brings the DUI up, the family court judge will want to know about it, but before the judge makes any decisions, he or she will want the following questions answered:

  • How recent was the DUI?
  • Did you receive treatment or go to DUI School?
  • How many DUIs do you have, and when did they occur?
  • Was it an isolated incident?
  • Do you have a drinking problem?
  • Do you have any other arrests or convictions on your record?
  • Was your child in the vehicle at the time of the DUI arrest?
  • Are you likely to drink and drive with your child in the vehicle?

The older the DUI, the better. If it was an isolated incident and it happened many years ago, it may not affect your child custody case. On the other hand, if the DUI was recent, or if there were aggravating factors; for example, if your child was in the vehicle, or if you had a high blood alcohol content (BAC), or if you caused an accident, it could hurt your child custody case, especially if the other parent convinces the judge that safety is an issue.

For readers who were arrested for DUI with a child in the vehicle, I want to mention that they face harsher penalties than they would with a standard DUI. Under Section 316.193(4)(1) of the Florida Statutes, DUI with a child under the age of 18 in the vehicle is punishable by up to a $2,000 fine and up to 9 months in jail for a first conviction.

So, if someone is convicted of drunk or drugged driving with a child in the vehicle, he or she could lose custody because of the incarceration alone.

Suggested Reading: How Does a Florida DUI Affect Insurance?

Contact my Miami DUI defense firm to discuss your legal defenses, especially since your DUI case could affect your relationship with your children.

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