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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 driver’s license, possible jail time, probation, and treatment.

However, there can be a ripple effect where other areas of a DUI offender’s life can be impacted. Not always, but often, a DUI case can be a symptom of a substance abuse that is out of control. If a person has a drug or alcohol problem, that problem can affect all areas of his life, including the relationships he has with his spouse and family. We will briefly discuss what, if any, impact a DUI case can have on a divorce case.

Generally speaking, a DUI charge or conviction will not directly impact a divorce proceeding. This means simply that the existence of a DUI charge or conviction does not mean that the offender will be negatively affected in the divorce proceedings. 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.

There can be good news for the father. Let’s say that as a condition of his criminal case, the father is required to be sober. The divorce courts can ensure 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, you will always want to consult with Denver’s trusted DUI attorneys to make sure you have an understanding of how all of your legal rights will be affected.

Thanks to our contributors at Hebets & McCallin for their insight into DUIs and divorce!