Off-Duty Police Officer Arrested for DUI with Kids in Car
Posted in General on January 12, 2015
A nineteen-year veteran police officer was recently charged with a Pennsylvania DUI offense after he was involved in an accident and it was discovered that his blood alcohol concentration was .276%. While the high blood alcohol concentration is alarming, more troubling is the fact that the man had been drinking at his ex-wife’s residence before leaving the residence with their 10- and 7-year-old children. The mother of the children was questioned by police after the accident regarding why she allowed the children to leave with their father, and she stated that the father did not appear to be intoxicated when he left.
Increased Penalties for Pennsylvania DUI with Minor Passenger
According to the article, the man has never been in legal trouble before. Many first-time-offenders of DUI participate in a “probation without verdict” program called the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. However, a driver that had a passenger under the age of 14 is not eligible to participate in the ARD program, so this man will not have the ARD program as a possible resolution.
The man also faces a DUI sentencing enhancement if a minor was a passenger in the car. In this case, if the district attorney sought to invoke the minor passenger enhancement, the grading of the charge would increase from an ungraded misdemeanor to a misdemeanor of the first degree. An ungraded misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of 6 months incarceration and a $2,500.00, whereas a first-degree misdemeanor has a maximum sentence of 5 years incarceration and a $10,000.00 fine.
Additional Criminal Charges
Aside from the DUI charges, it would not surprise me if this man was also charged with Endangering the Welfare of Children. A charge of Endangering the Welfare of Children can be filed against a parent, guardian, or other person acting in a supervisory capacity over a minor that “knowingly endangers the welfare of the child by violating a duty of care, protection or support.” Since the mother knew that the father was drinking before he took the children, it is possible that she could also be charged with Endangering the Welfare of Children. The Endangering Welfare of Children charge, set forth at 18 Pa.C.S.A. § 4304, is a misdemeanor of the first degree and thereby has a maximum sentence of 5 years incarceration and a $10,000.00 fine.
This DUI defendant is in a lot of trouble. If convicted of DUI and Endangering the Welfare of Children, he has mandatory jail time, fines, and suspension of Pennsylvania driving privileges. Aside from criminal penalties, a collateral consequence of conviction may be that the officer is fired from his job. A DUI conviction would result in a suspension of his Pennsylvania driver’s license, and it would probably be difficult for an officer to keep a job without a license. Also, because the man endangered his children, the police department may also be inclined to fire the man. Regrettably, at the age of 40, a father of two relatively young children, and a nineteen year veteran of the police force, the man’s bad decision to get behind while the wheel while intoxicated may force the man to completely change his life as he currently knows it.