Often, when we think about a DUI case, we initially only consider the criminal sanctions and penalties that the offender is exposed to. The obvious penalties come to mind:
- loss of license
- jail time
- and court mandated classes or treatment.
However, there can be a ripple effect where other areas of a DUI offender’s life can be impacted, for instance if an alleged offender is involved in any civil suit, like a personal injury case or divorce, there may be some concern that this kind of charge will reflect poorly. Generally speaking, though, a DUI charge or conviction will not directly impact a divorce proceeding. This means that it may not be always be considered in the division of assets or settlement agreement involving the previously married couple.
However, it can interfere with matters regarding child custody. Here’s an example: A father drives drunk with his toddler in the back seat. He gets pulled over and charged with DUI and Child Endangerment. His wife then files for divorce and seeks full custody. The divorce court will not care what happens in the criminal case as it pertains to alimony, child support and the actual dissolution proceedings. However, when it comes time to evaluate the custody arrangement, the DUI case matters, because it goes to the issue of whether or not the parent poses a danger to his child.
But there can be good news for the father that not all is lost on the civil side of things. Let’s say that as a condition of his criminal case, the father is required to be sober. The divorce courts then have a direct and trackable accountability measure ensuring that the father is undergoing treatment and remaining sober by checking in with the probation department to make sure he is compliant. If he remains sober, the court can factor in his rehabilitation to determine to what extent custody should be awarded.
The aggravation or mitigation of the case can also matter. If it is a first time DUI case with no accident, it will be viewed by the divorce court much differently than a third time DUI case involving an accident.
If you have been charged with a DUI and are involved in a civil divorce suit, it may be in your best interest to not only consult with your divorce attorney, but also a DUI lawyer Peoria IL trusts to make sure you have an understanding of how all of your legal rights will be affected.
Thanks to our contributors from Smith & Weer, P.C. for their insight into DUIs and divorce.