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Can a NC DWI Effect My Custody Case?


Have you been arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in North Carolina? If so, you may be facing huge fines, prison time, license suspension, and other penalties. If you are in a custody battle, you could also lose much more — custody and unrestricted visitation. Consulting a child custody lawyer with experience in DWI cases can be beneficial.

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm is a full service criminal defense law firm and family law firm. Our child custody lawyer understands exactly how a DWI arrest and conviction can impact a custody case and the best ways to mitigate the damage.

Effects of a DWI on a Child Custody Battle

The effect of a driving while impaired charge or conviction will impact a child custody battle in different ways depending on the facts and circumstances of both cases. A DWI is a serious matter; however, just because you have a driving while impaired charge does not mean that you will automatically lose a custody battle. Likewise, being convicted of a DWI does not automatically make you an unfit parent. While a judge will give some consideration to a DWI charge or conviction, the judge will not use this as his sole basis for deciding custody and visitation. The judge is likely to look at the totality of the circumstances concerning the DWI when weighing how it impacts his ruling on custody and visitation.

Some factors the judge may consider when weighing how a DWI will impact custody and visitation decisions include:

  • How old is the DWI charge and/or conviction?
  • What was the BAC at the time of arrest? Were you right at the legal limit of .08 or were you under or over the legal limit and by how much?
  • Did you complete any drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation courses or treatment plans?
  • Was this your first DWI or do you have multiple charges?
  • If you were charged with driving while impaired because of drugs, what type of drug did you take? Was it an illegal drug or was it a prescription drug that you took according to the prescription and it impaired your driving because of the side effects?
  • Did you have the children or any other minors in the vehicle at the time of the arrest?
  • Did you cause an accident that resulted in injuries?
  • Do you have other criminal charges pending? What is your criminal record?
  • Were there any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances?

Because how you present the evidence to the judge is crucial, hiring an attorney who understands how to present a strong argument that minimizes the negative aspects of a DWI charge is important. In other words, you want an attorney who can argue that the DWI will not impair your ability as a parent. Because some individuals view a DWI as a lack of good reason and poor decision making, your attorney will need to show the judge that your DWI is not an indication of your parenting skills.

Can A DWI Keep Me From Having Visitation With My Children?

If the judge grants custody to your ex-spouse, the battle then becomes over your right to visitation with your children. If you are convicted of a DWI, you could lose your driver’s license. This will prevent you from being able to transport your children to and from visitation, school, extra-curricular activities, doctor’s appointments, and other events. This severely limits your ability to care for your children during visitation. If you are unable to provide transportation for your children, your ex-spouse can argue that you should not have unrestricted visitation.

The key will be to show how you can have visitation with your children even though you cannot provide transportation. This may involve securing a commitment by another family member to act as driver when you have visitation or having visitation at a family member’s home (i.e. your parents) to ensure the children have adequate transportation. A skilled, experienced child custody lawyer can help prepare a plan to present to the judge to help mitigate the effect of a DWI conviction on visitation.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Child Custody Lawyer

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The child custody lawyer of The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm has extensive experience assisting clients who are facing complex and difficult custody issues including a DWI arrest and/or conviction. The key is to take the facts and formulate a plan that the judge can accept as being in the best interest of the child. The best interest of the child is always the overriding concern in custody and visitation cases. We will work with you to find ways to lessen the impact of a DWI on your child custody case.

Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a case evaluation with an experienced child custody lawyer.