There are many consequences that follow an arrest and conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in Colorado. Hefty fines, court-ordered rehab, limits on or loss of your driving privileges, and jail time may all lay ahead. But a DUI can have repercussions well beyond what the judge in your criminal case can order. A DUI can damage your reputation and limit your employment opportunities. It also may affect your child custody rights.
A first-time DUI, in and of itself, may not have any impact on custody determinations or existing parental rights. People make mistakes and bad decisions all the time, driving under the influence being one of the most common. One bad decision doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent or a risk to your child’s safety or well-being. But if that DUI is representative of larger concerns about your fitness as a parent, it can and will be considered when parenting time and parental responsibility decisions are made.
For example, if this is your second or subsequent DUI conviction, a court may see that as evidence of poor judgment and a problem with alcohol abuse. A parent’s issues with substance abuse directly impact that parent’s ability to care for their children, and will be weighed heavily by a judge in making initial parenting time determinations or a request by the other parent to modify parenting time arrangements.
If you were driving under the influence with your kids in the car, this can be seen by a judge as a direct threat to the safety of your children and call into question your ability to ensure the well-being and health of your kids. It can also result in additional criminal charges for child abuse or child endangerment.
Additionally, the loss of driving privileges that often follows a DUI conviction can make parenting time arrangements much more challenging. If you can’t pick-up or drop-off your kids; if you can’t take them to soccer practice or the doctor, a judge may take these limitations into consideration when deciding what arrangement is in the child’s best interest.
A DUI can result in any number of painful limitations on how and when you spend time with your kids, including:
- Reduction in parenting time
- Change in the child’s primary residence
- Required supervision during parenting time
- Prohibition on driving with the child in the car.
Everyone knows that drinking and driving is bad, illegal, and life-threatening. Any parent who is going or has gone through a contentious divorce knows that child custody and visitation issues can be emotionally taxing and the source of intense conflict. When a parental DUI becomes an issue between divorced parents, it can be explosive and lead to potentially devastating consequences.
If you’re a divorced or divorcing Colorado parent and have been charged or convicted of DUI, you should reach out to an experienced Colorado child custody lawyer as soon as possible to understand the potential consequences of your DUI and ensure that your parental rights are protected.