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DUI Charges Can Affect Parenting Time and Parental Responsibilities

When someone is engaged in a dispute over parental responsibilities (child custody), a DUI charge can have far-reaching consequences. Driving under the influence is one of the most common charges an individual is likely to face in their lifetime. It is possible for anyone to suffer a lapse of judgment, not accurately assess their level of intoxication, and be caught driving when they should not have been. A DUI charge obviously carries potential criminal penalties and potential drivers' license consequences. Driving under the influence is not a charge that legally requires any action by the court regarding child custody, and a DUI conviction will not necessarily have any effect, whatsoever, on a parent's parenting time or decision-making responsibilities However, Colorado courts are tasked with determining parenting time and parental decision-making based upon the best interests of the child, and a DUI charge against either parent will, at the very least, raise some questions in the judge's mind that will need to be answered.

The primary consideration for the judge to consider will be the extent to which alcohol use affects the parent's ability to care for a child. If the parent has no prior history of alcohol abuse, the children were not in the car at the time of the DUI, and it did not occur during a time when the parent was tasked with caring for the children, then the charge may not have any major impact on the judge's determinations regarding parenting time or decision-making.

If, on the other hand, the children were present in the car or the parent's alcohol use could have affected his or her ability to care for the children, then the judge will want to take a much closer look at the surrounding circumstances, and may order supervised parenting time only, or require some sort of sobriety monitoring in order to ensure the safety of the child or children.

Once a DUI charge becomes an issue in a parental responsibilities case, both parents should recognize the decisions that the judge will have to make, and provide whatever evidence they can to shed light on the actual circumstances. The parent facing such charges should focus on demonstrating to the court that this was an isolated event that does not affect his or her ability to parent. To that end, it would be wise for the parent to voluntarily obtain an alcohol evaluation and/or voluntarily begin monitored sobriety to be able to create a track record showing abstinence. If the other parent has concerns about excessive alcohol use, then he or she should make the court aware of any prior alcohol related charges or incidents, or any occasions on which the other party's alcohol use has affected their ability to parent the child or children.

Anyone charged with a DUI offense would be wise to consult with an experienced criminal or DUI attorney in order to minimize the impact of such a charge. If that person is also a parent who is either going through a divorce or subject to orders determining their parental responsibilities, then they should certainly consult with an experienced family law attorney as well.

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Law Office of Alexandra White, PC
12625 E. Euclid Dr.
Centennial, CO 80111

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