A 33-year-old Brevard mother was charged with DUI impairment/serious bodily injury and three counts of child neglect-great harm after allegedly crashing her vehicle while under the influence of cocaine and alcohol, sending her and her three young children to area hospitals.
The woman’s 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee overturned several times on March 8, ejecting her 5-year-old son. Her 4-year-old boy and 9-month-old girl were also in the vehicle.
The older two children were flown to St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach. The 5-year-old suffered severe injuries, while records indicate the 4-year-old was critically injured. The 5-year-old boy had a fractured femur and clavicle, bruised lungs, cerebral contusion and other injuries.
The woman and her 9-month-old were taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute in Fort Pierce.
A Mercedes carrying two adults was also involved in the wreck.
Police claim blood taken from the woman at the hospital nearly four hours after the 8:30 p.m. crash tested positive for cocaine and had an alcohol content of 0.094.
Five days after the crash, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper went to St. Mary’s and allegedly smelled alcohol coming from the woman and reported her eyes were bloodshot and watery and her speech very slurred.
A nurse at the hospital apparently told troopers that the 5-year-old boy told her his mother’s favorite drink was wine.
FHP officials claim the woman told them she had consumed three glasses of wine before she left her home the day of the crash. She apparently borrowed her friend’s jeep to visit her husband at a federal penitentiary.
According to FHP, only one child seat was recovered from the vehicle.
The woman apparently denied taking any controlled substances.
The presence of children in a vehicle can complicate a Florida DUI arrest and often results in child endangerment charges. In fact, Florida law provides for enhanced penalties for a DUI charge if a child is present in the car. This woman will likely face enhanced DUI penalties due to the allegations she had drugs and alcohol in her system and three children in her vehicle at the time of the incident.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2009 there were 1,314 traffic deaths amid children ages 0 to 14 years. Of these, 181 involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Due to numbers like these, Florida as well as other areas throughout the country has implemented tough child endangerment laws for those drinking and driving with children in the car. The consequences of a DUI charge alone can carry stiff penalties such as heavy fines, jail time and the loss of your driver’s license. Having a child in your car following a DUI arrest adds an additional charge of child endangerment. By having multiple children in your car, additional counts will be tacked on making the consequences associated with a conviction even more severe.
Child endangerment cases are fueled by emotions, requiring a DUI Defense Lawyer that can mount an effective defense based off of the facts. When faced with charges stemming from a DUI, it is important to protect your rights until your case is fully resolved. The Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to pursuing the most positive conclusion on your behalf. As former prosecutors, we are fully aware of how the State builds its case against those charged with DUI and child endangerment. We can discuss your case with you and the many ways these serious charges can be addressed.
If you have been charged with drunken driving and child endangerment in Florida, contact the Florida DUI Defense Lawyers at Whittel & Melton online or dial us statewide and toll-free at 1-866-608-5LAW (5529).