Going through a child custody case can be stressful in itself. Generally, the last thing you need will be any more legal problems. Unfortunately, life can throw multiple challenges up at any one time.
Facing DWI charges can be both time-consuming and worrying. Furthermore, if you are convicted, you can be subjected to hefty penalties and your reputation can also be damaged. What probably concerns you the most is the potential impact that a DWI conviction can have on your child custody rights. In New York, custody cases center around the best interests of the child. So, can a DWI conviction play a factor in the decisions of the family court?
Everybody makes mistakes
No parent is perfect and the courts are fully aware of this. As a result, if you are facing only one DWI charge or have only one conviction, the courts may grant some leeway. A one-time incident is not likely to be viewed as having a significant influence on your ability to parent. This is especially the case if your record shows that the incident occurred a number of years ago.
Exhibiting a pattern of worrying behaviors
If your DWI conviction is more than a one-off event, the outcome could be very different during a child custody hearing. Having multiple DWI charges or convictions could be an indication of a pattern of behavior that has the potential to put the child at risk. The court may conclude that you have a problem with alcohol abuse that needs to be rectified. Importantly, there are also other aggravating factors that may be taken into consideration. For instance, if the child was present at the time you were arrested, the court will frown upon this and likely see it as an endangerment to the child.
Being charged with a DWI offense does not necessarily mean that you are guilty. You are perfectly entitled to defend yourself and understanding your legal rights in New York will help with this process.