Authorities made a South Florida arrest for DUI and child endangerment in Boynton Beach after allegedly discovering a woman drunk behind the wheel of a car in a parking lot with four children jumping in and out of the sunroof.
According to The Sun Sentinel, the engine of the vehicle was running. It was about 7:30 p.m. and the vehicle was parked in a Publix grocery store parking lot. In the front passenger seat, police say, was a half-empty jug of sangria. The 34-year-old woman in the driver’s seat allegedly had a blood-alcohol concentration of .358, which is more than four times the legal amount of 0.08. This was after she agreed to undergo a blood alcohol test.
Police reported they were called to the parking lot after several witnesses said they had tried to chase the young children out of harm’s way, as they were running around the parking lot and were almost struck by vehicles entering and leaving. One witness called dispatchers and said they had seen the driver drinking in the car from a large jug of wine.
Officers arrived on scene and reported the woman was unconscious, with keys in the ignition. They woke her and she reportedly had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on her breath. Her eyes were allegedly bloodshot and she was reportedly swaying as she stood. Upon questioning from police, she told them she had been in the parking lot nearly two hours. She was crying. She refused to undergo sobriety tests at the scene, but agreed to a blood-alcohol test once transported back to the station.
She has been charged with DUI, child neglect and driving with a suspended license. The state’s Department of Children and Families also got involved, removing the four children from her custody and placing them with relatives.
In a case like this, there are several things to point out, just based on the facts we know, which at this point are only allegations and have not been proven in a court of law. The first is that F.S. 316.193 does not require that a person be in a moving vehicle in order to be arrested for DUI. This woman was reportedly parked in the same spot for hours. But the keys were in the ignition, and the statute only requires that the individual be “in actual physical control” of the vehicle. That could apply in a case like this.
With regard to the children, defendant likely could have been charged with child endangerment or child neglect even if the children hadn’t been running through the parking lot and jumping in and out of the sunroof.
Persons who are convicted of DUI and who 1. have a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher and/ or 2. are accompanied by a person under 18 at the time of the offense face stricter penalties under the aforementioned statute. Specifically, a first-time conviction will result in up to 9 months of imprisonment and a fine of up to $2,000 – as compared to a maximum 6 months jail time and a $1,000 fine otherwise.
Meanwhile, F.S. 827.03(2)(d) deals with child neglect, and allows offenders to face a third-degree felony -punishable by up to five years in prison – even when the omission to provide care or supervision did not result in great bodily harm or injury.
In a case like this when so much is at stake, defendants must seek an experienced criminal defense attorney to help them navigate the system and work for the best possible outcome.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
Woman was 4 times above legal limit as kids jumped through sunroof to play, cops say, April 4, 2017, By Adam Sacasa, The Sun Sentinel
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Boynton Beach Won’t Drop Red Light Camera Traffic Violations, April 9, 2017, Fort Lauderdale DUI Defense Attorney Blog