Your Pierce County / Tacoma DUI Might Mean CPS Involvement and Custody Issues – Be Prepared

Being arrested for DUI is terrifying enough. It’s usually caused by a temporary lapse in judgment with someone who has had no previous legal problems. So now, for the first time in your life, you’re facing potential jail time, fines, license suspension and other possible penalties like being required to install an ignition interlock device. But now it even just got scarier for you. Your child was in the car and now you’ve just learned that CPS is investigating you.

First – don’t panic. It may feel like it but you’re not being singled out. In WA anytime a DUI arrest happens with children in the car they are required to report it to CPS and CPS is, in turn, required to conduct an investigation. What CPS is looking for is whether there is cause to believe that ongoing abuse or neglect is happening in your home. If that does not describe your situation then you have little to worry about. But it is frightening and is one reason you need the counsel of your defense attorney.

You will likely get a home visit from a CPS worker within a day or two of your arrest. They will examine the surroundings. They will interview you and, if they’re old enough, they will interview the children. If you have had previous CPS referrals or the caseworker witnesses something they believe creates harm for the child then the investigation may continue. However, if there are no previous CPS referrals and CPS was only brought in due to the DUI this is likely where their investigation will end. Just don’t let their involvement rattle you, be courteous, consult with your defense attorney as to what is the best way to cooperate with CPS.

But, of course, when this happened you already had other life events going on that this may affect. Perhaps you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings that involve a custody battle. Or perhaps you’re a custodial parent but you suspect that your ex-spouse will use this circumstance to reopen custody hearings.  If you suspect that a DUI arrest will not help your custody case you’re not wrong. In child custody cases what the court is looking at is what is in the best interests of the child. The other side may now try to show through this circumstance is that you would not be a good fit.

Even if the child was safely at home with a babysitter when you got your DUI, the opposing lawyer may try to be argued that a possible future occurrence could include the child or that this is a demonstration of poor judgment/decision making or shows an alcohol problem. Of course, this gets even harder to argue against if the child was in the car. But remember, you’re presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you’ve only been arrested, your lawyer should be able to argue against this being used against you. What you need to do is avoid the conviction or at least get the charges minimized. That’s why you need a defense attorney. If you’re acquitted then the family law court will have to make its own independent decisions and cannot simply rely on the conviction. Even a reduction may be helpful but you’ll want your defense attorney working closely with your family law attorney to make sure the outcome has minimal impact on your family law case.

Your defense attorney will seek every angle to get this charge dropped or reduced. A defense investigation will be done on your behalf. The police need to have probable cause to stop you. Was there such? Try to remember why they stopped you in the first place. They also need to have probable cause to arrest you.  Were the field sobriety tests properly administered?  Was the BAC test working correctly? Was the external standard properly tested? Everything will be checked.

Don’t let a DUI conviction destroy your child custody for you by default.

Yes, it’s scary to have CPS involved. But if you’re like most people it will be a temporary scare. Hopefully this gave some guidelines but what you really need is the counsel and defense that only a DUI defense attorney can provide. That’s what you will get when you hire from Smith & White, PLLC for your  Tacoma DUI defense attorney. Call the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.

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