Facing DUI With A Pending Child Custody Case? What You Need To Know

Most people arrested for and convicted of a DUI will face all sorts of legal issues after the fact. From the fines that must be paid to the likely license suspension, you'll have a lot of details to address and sort out. However, you will also have the potential of far greater issues. For example, if you are in the midst of any kind of custody battle, it is important that you understand how your DUI might affect your child custody case outcome. Here are some things to discuss with your DUI attorney to try to mitigate the effects.

The Case Disposition Matters

If you are working through a current custody case or have the potential of an upcoming one, you need to talk with your DUI attorney about the potential disposition options for your case. The way that you choose to settle your DUI case will have the potential to directly affect your custody situation as well.

Plea: If you accept a plea agreement, carefully consider how that plea will appear on your record, if at all. Pleading guilty in exchange for community service or lesser fines will leave you with a DUI on your record. Taking a plea that eliminates the DUI from your record after a period of probation, on the other hand, will prevent that DUI from being a legal fixture on your record.

Conviction: Taking the case to court and being convicted of DUI means you will have a DUI on your record. This can then be used as evidence against you in a custody hearing to attempt to prove you an irresponsible and unfit parent.

Not Guilty/Dismissal: Having your case dismissed or being found not guilty of your DUI doesn't eliminate the charge from your record but does appear as a dismissed case or a not guilty finding. While this isn't as ideal as having the charge eliminated from your record through a plea, it is viewed better than a DUI conviction would be.

Your Custody Case Could Be Affected

If your DUI case is settled with a guilty finding, the opposing lawyer in your custody case is likely to introduce it as evidence of your character in court. He or she can present it as proof that you act irresponsibly and could potentially put the child's life and safety at risk.

The judge will assess the case documentation to determine if the charge is warranted as evidence of unfit parenting. If your child was in the car with you at the time of your DUI, this will have a significant bearing on the outcome of your custody case and will come with additional charges in most states.

There Are Ways To Mitigate The Effect

If your DUI attorney is unable to secure you a plea that removes the DUI from your record, and you are not awarded a not guilty finding, it is important that you take any steps possible to mitigate the effects of this conviction or plea on your custody case.

Your DUI attorney can provide you with important information to help defend yourself in the custody court. In addition, you may be able to negotiate the situation with the judge to submit to routine drug and alcohol testing and show documentation of your recovery efforts. If you have been ordered to a substance abuse facility, make sure you attend and show documentation of the completion to the judge as well.

A careful defense is essential with any type of DUI case. However, when you are facing a potential child custody case as well, your DUI case must be handled far more carefully. Talk with your DUI attorney today about your concerns related to any potential child custody hearing so that he or she can formulate your DUI defense accordingly to minimize the impact on the case resolution.