For many parents, their child custody rights might seem very fragile. Especially if you’ve been through lengthy custody battles, you may be aware of how the system works, and how mistakes and indiscretions could lead to losing custody or having your child custody rights restricted. Charges for driving under the influence (DUI) are quite serious in Utah, but they do not by themselves show enough about a parent that a court should strip them of their custody rights or take their kids away from them, but when combined with other details, a DUI conviction might be the last straw that leads to losing custody. Overson Law’s Salt Lake City DUI defense attorneys explain how these cases work and how a DUI might affect your child custody rights in Utah.
Can I Lose Custody Over DUI Charges in Utah?
Courts consider criminal charges as one of the many factors they look at when making child custody decisions. Courts will often look to records of prior convictions as evidence of the parent’s safety and responsibility. For instance, convictions for fraud or embezzlement might show that a parent is untrustworthy or unreliable, and convictions for assault charges or other violent crimes might show the parent to have anger or abuse issues. In this respect, a DUI conviction may hint at issues, but the court should look at other circumstances as well before considering a DUI conviction to be a serious problem.
A DUI can occur for many reasons. Drivers can be pulled over after a few drinks at dinner, a night out at a party, or after a day of overdrinking. Many people who face DUI charges, especially second DUI charges or repeat DUI charges, have problems with alcohol abuse. If the court sees evidence of alcoholism or addiction, that would be a more serious concern they might consider in a custody hearing.
Similarly, DUI charges are not always victimless crimes. If you are driving safely and you happen to be a bit too intoxicated, you may feel that criminal charges are unjustified. However, DUI is often compared to Russian Roulette: you never know if maybe this time someone will be hurt. If you are involved in an accident while driving under the influence or if you commit automobile homicide while intoxicated, the court could see you as a much greater danger to yourself, your family, and others around you. Especially if your child was in the car with you when you were driving under the influence or your child was injured in a crash you caused during a DUI, the court might see this as serious proof that your children need to be taken away from you.
Fighting DUI Charges and Child Custody Battles in Utah
If you believe that a current DUI charge or a past history of drunk driving will become an issue in your Utah child custody case, it is important to talk to a lawyer. Overson Law’s Utah DUI defense lawyers represent drivers accused of drunk driving or drugged driving, and we fight to get those charges dropped and dismissed.
Many charges can be dismissed because police officers failed to follow proper protocols with arrests, blood draws, and traffic stops. Other times, tainted blood tests and policing mistakes can lead to evidence becoming unusable, making it impossible to convict you for the offense. If the DUI charges against you can be dropped or dismissed, you may be able to avoid having those charges come up in your custody case at all.
Unfortunately, if you do have a problem with alcoholism or substance use disorder, this could still become an issue in your custody hearing, even if you were not charged or convicted of DUI. In many cases, getting the help you need for your substance abuse issues can help show the court that you are not only determined to make yourself a fit parent, but that you deserve to maintain your child custody rights and continue having access to your kids.
In most cases, the family court will look at the broader picture when deciding your custody case. A single DUI conviction is not usually enough to get the court to strip you of your custody rights or restrict your visitation with your children. However, if you have other criminal charges on your record, you may need further help arguing to keep your kids. If the children’s other parent has other criminal charges on their record, it is important to consider that your DUI might not be as bad as their record, and the court might see you as more fit to parent than the other parent.
In rare cases, the court might decide that neither parent is fit to have child custody if you and your spouse both have a bad history of DUI or other criminal activity. It is vital to approach these cases with the help of a skilled, experienced lawyer who can help protect your rights, especially if there is a strong record against you in the courts. Call our attorneys for help with your case today.
Call the Salt Lake City DUI Defense Lawyers at Overson Law for a Free Consultation
If you have recently been charged with a DUI and think it might affect a pending child custody decision, it is vital to talk to a lawyer about both the DUI charges and the child custody case. Our attorneys can also help fight to keep older convictions of DUI and other charges from being used against you in custody battles, working to protect your rights. For help with your case in Utah, call our Salt Lake City criminal defense lawyers today. Overson Law can be reached at (801) 758-2287.