Hi. I just got into a big fight with my husband. He took our baby to his sister’s house to watch a football game and came back smelling like beer. I’m furious that he drank and drove with our baby in the car. He says it was just a couple of beers and he was fine to drive. How can I convince him that this is not ok?”
Depending on your husband’s height and weight, it is possible that he had a few beers and was still under the legal limit. But that is not to say he was not impaired and did not endanger your child.
You’re right that it’s better to just not drink anything at all if you know you’ll be driving, especially if you know you’ll be driving a baby or child. A 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2,335 children were killed in drunk driving accidents between 1997 and 2002. Of those children who were killed, 68 percent of them were in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver. The National Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) detailed in 2003 how motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause of death for children between the ages of two and 14; the NHTSA found in 2004 that 21 percent of the children who were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2003 were involved in drunk driving accidents. Approximately 47 percent (209) of those kids were passengers in vehicles in which the driver was driving under the influence.
Even if your husband doesn’t get into an accident, he could face some pretty severe penalties if he gets caught. DUI arrests with kids in the car have become so common that many states have enacted new laws that increase the penalties for anyone charged with DUI who also has children in the car.
As far as the laws go, they vary by state. For example in New York, it is a felony to drive drunk with a child passenger under the age of 16, but in Wisconsin, the same offense is a misdemeanor. Three states besides New York have similar felony laws for those who drive drunk with a child passenger in a vehicle: Arizona, Oklahoma, and Texas. Earlier this year, a legislation making first-time DUI offenders with children in their car susceptible to six months in jail was signed into Wyoming DUI law: people who are convicted of DUI with kids in the car with a prior DUI arrest are now subject to a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Here’s an idea– order him a breathalyzer for his keychain. That way you and he will know without a doubt if he’s over or under the limit.