2017 update: According to research conducted by Drs. Romano and Kelley-Baker, the strongest correlation between the declines in drunk driving deaths by state in comparison to applicable statutes had to do with the existence of primary seat belt laws. Compared to explicit child endangerment laws, primary seat belt laws had more of an impact on drunk driving deaths. Therefore, it is the strong recommendation of the 2017 Child Endangerment Panel that primary seat belt laws be adopted by every state. Currently, only 34 states and the District of Columbia have primary seat belt laws. Recognition of Abuse & Child Protective Service Agency Notification 2004 recommendation: A conviction for DUI/DWI Child Endangerment should be defined specifically as child endangerment and/or child abuse under state criminal statutes. In addition, it should be defined as child endangerment, child abuse and/or child neglect under any civil statutes as they relate to child custody issues. State law should require that a conviction for violation of DUI/DWI Child Endangerment or similar state law must be reported to child protective service agencies, the Department of Family and Children Services or equivalent state agencies. Attorneys, medical providers, law enforcement officers, courts, school officials and day care providers should be included in the definition of those required to report. Upon receipt of a notice of conviction of the DUI/DWI Child Endangerment Statute or similar law, child protective service agencies or the equivalent state agency should be required to investigate in the same manner as any other child abuse or child neglect case. 2017 update: The 2017 panel maintains the recommendations above and recommends statutory requirement of notification of child protective service agencies when a child is a passenger in the vehicle of a caregiver who has been driving while impaired. Often, this notification is not automatic and therefore, opportunities to prevent future injury or death are missed. Additionally, when parents are divorced and the child is a passenger of a parent who has been drinking, the other parent often is not notified, making it difficult to enter this as evidence in custody hearings. Mandatory notification and subsequent investigation of child protective service agencies acknowledges that child endangerment is child abuse and provides an opportunity to protect the child from future incidents. Recommendations in Civil Cases Related to Child Custody and Visitation 2004 recommendation: There should be a mandatory provision in every separation agreement and divorce decree involving minor children that prohibits drunk driving, or driving under the influence of other drugs, by either parent when they are transporting their minor children.
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