2018 Child Endangerment Report

• Offenders who cause physical injury to a child in the vehicle may be charged with a Class C felony, punishable by up to 15 years in state prison. • Parents, guardians, custodians who are charged with drunk driving while that child is a passenger in the car would be reported to the Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment by the arresting agency. While the efficacy of this law is still being evaluated, the 2017 panel agrees that this law, along with public awareness, proper enforcement and adjudication, has the potential to impact drunk and drugged driving child endangerment. The 2017 panel also supports passing a federal version of Leandra’s Law with sanctions for states that do not comply. In addition to Leandra’s Law, the 2017 panel recommends the adoption of the following legislative mandates: Mandatory Interlocks for ALL First-Time Offenders The 2017 panel strongly supports MADD’s legislative priority to encourage all states to pass first time offender interlock laws. Interlocks have been shown to be one of the most impactful methods of drunk driving deterrence. Research shows that there is a 15 percent reduction in DUI deaths in states that have all-offender laws and that interlocks reduce recidivism by 65 percent. Formal Finding of Dismissal The 2017 panel strongly recommends a legislative state mandate that requires prosecutors to formally file a declaration of dismissal for a drunk or drugged driving case involving a child passenger. Many drunk driving cases never reach trial and are dismissed or are plea-bargained down to a lesser charge. For instance, in the state of Washington, prosecutors have a 96 percent drunk driving conviction rate. Only 1 to 2 percent of drunk driving arrests, however, make it to trial. There are many reasons why a charge is dismissed or pled down. Prosecutors must pursue cases in which they are likely to get a conviction. They are opposed by highly skilled, trained defense attorneys who use a variety of strategies in attacking a drunk driving charge. There is also a tremendous amount of paperwork and back-up support that officers must do in order to help a prosecutor prepare for a case. At every turn, there is an opportunity for cases to be dismissed. Therefore, a formal dismissal requirement, in which a prosecutor must file a form stating the details of the case (including whether children were in the car at the time of the offense) and the reason for dismissal, provides another level of accountability to the victims and the public, as well as one more opportunity to consider the impact of a dismissal.


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