Facing an impaired driving charge is stressful under any circumstance. But if you’re a parent, there is a lot more at stake. Your conviction could be used as evidence that you are an unfit parent. In certain cases, it could even mean an increased sentence.
Here are the main issues to understand:
Having an impaired driving charge on your record could create issues with regards to your child custody. Your charge could be used against you in court if you get divorced, if your ex seeks a custody modification or if your child custody arrangement is in dispute for any other reason. Your ex could use your charge as evidence of alcohol abuse, and allege that you pose a risk to your children. Family courts will always make determinations in the best interest of the child, and they do not take such allegations lightly.
Presence of children
If your children are in the car with you when the police stop you for impaired driving, this can count against you in court. Impaired driving with children in the car is considered an aggravating factor under the Criminal Code, and this will likely make your sentence more severe. You could face jail time rather than just a fine.
An impaired driving conviction could also place you under scrutiny by Alberta Children’s Services. They could initiate an investigation to determine whether you have a history of alcohol abuse or other behaviour that could put your children at risk. This investigation may include:
- Interviews with you, your children and other family members
- Inquiry into the habits and schedules of you and your children
- Unannounced house visits to search for evidence of alcohol or substance abuse
This could ultimately lead to a social worker taking custody of your children.
The potential consequences of an impaired driving charge are no doubt scary, but they are not a foregone conclusion. It’s important to remember that a charge is not the same as a conviction, and with the right legal support, you may be able to avoid these outcomes all together. An experienced criminal defence lawyer will work to understand your case and develop the most effective strategy to advocate on your behalf.