DUI Mom Charged with Child Abuse for Driving Under the Influence with Children
Drunk driving can mean serious consequences at any time, but when you add children to the car of a DUI offender, not only is the possibility of serious injuries that much greater, but so are the penalties that law enforcement authorities will place on the convicted DUI offender.
Sherril Garner, 28, of Mebane, North Carolina, found out first hand that the law doesn't mess around when it comes to protecting children and punishing those who put them in harm's way.
After a car accident that authorities believe happened as a result of drunk driving, Garner was charged with DWI, in addition to other reckless driving and resisting arrest charges, but most importantly with misdemeanor child abuse and a child restraint violation.
Garner was reportedly driving her car north on Interstate 40 in North Carolina at 2:30 a.m., with four child passengers, when she ran the car off the road, hitting a tree and overturning the car.
The passengers of the car were Garner's own two children, 6-year-old Conasia Garner and 5-year-old Charles Wright, along with Garner's younger brother 15-year-old Jerry Gant, and her 13-year-old goddaughter Raven Patterson. According to State Trooper James Chinnici, none of the passengers were wearing seat belts, and though the younger children were in the back seat, neither was in child safety seats.
When Chinicci arrived on the scene shortly after the accident, he stated that the driver of the car was "obviously impaired." Though blood was drawn from Garner to determine her blood alcohol content (BAC), police are still awaiting results of the test.
Garner and the eldest passenger, 15-year-old Jerry Gant were treated for minor injuries and released from Alamance Regional Medical Center. At last word, Conasia Garner was in fair condition at Alamance, while Wright and Patterson were in stable condition at UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill.
According to Chinicci, Garner immediately tried to shift the blame for the accident, claiming that she collided with a semi truck that merged into her lane. However, there was no evidence of the fact that any truck hit her car, and no witnesses to corroborate her story.
Garner's story is a good example of the way that charges may begin to pile up when there are other factors involved in a DUI offense, and especially when children are involved.
In fact, earlier this year, the state of Wyoming enacted a law mandating that first-time DUI offenders with children in the car be jailed for six months to one year, while a second DUI offense of the same type results in a felony that brings up to five years in prison for the DUI offender.