Can a DWI/DUI Prompt a Child Welfare Investigation?

Can a DWI/DUI Prompt a Child Welfare Investigation?If you are arrested for a DWI/DUI and had a minor child whom you were responsible for in the car with you, you could face more than just criminal charges. In fact, child protective services operated by New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) could likely become involved.

The consequences that could follow a DWI arrest with a minor in the car are serious. DCP&P will begin an investigation into whether or not your child was abused or neglected. Even if your child was left unharmed, the risk of harm your child was exposed to could be considered child abuse. Child welfare caseworkers, not law enforcement, will conduct the investigation. Also, the DCP&P will decide whether it is safe for your child to remain at home. If not, caseworkers can take your child into custody and file a case against you. You will need to create and follow a safety plan if the DCP&P decides your child can remain at home.

In addition to a DWI/DUI charge, parents or guardians can be charged with being a disorderly person if they are convicted of a DWI and had a minor child (17 years or younger) with them in the car at the time of the offense. A parent or guardian can be a biological parent, stepparent, adoptive parent, resource parent (i.e. foster parent), or any person who had a legal responsibility for the care, control, or custody of a minor child. You could even face charges for endangering a child, which is a much mores serious offense that could result in a prison sentence.

The actions the DCP&P will take are separate from the actions the criminal court will take. These processes are separate, but a conviction in the criminal court could affect your child welfare case. These types of cases can be complex given the multitude of factors involved. Thus, if you are facing allegations of child abuse or neglect as result of a DWI, you should consult with a child welfare attorney as soon as possible. While you will need a criminal defense attorney to defend you against your criminal charge(s), you should enlist the help of a child welfare attorney to defend your rights as a parent. The DCP&P can step in and take quick action against your rights as a parent, but an experienced New Jersey child welfare attorney can advise you of your rights, explain what will happen next in your case, and help you formulate a plan of action. 

Are you under investigation for child abuse or neglect? The attorneys at the Williams Law Group, LLC can help you navigate the child welfare case process from start to finish, so you know your rights are defended. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation so you can work with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.

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