Parents might not lose custody of children simply because they received a DUI in Kentucky. However, it might depend on the circumstances. For instance, if the parent had the children in the vehicle at the time, this might lead to more serious charges that often affect child custody. This might hold true even if the children do not belong to the drunk driver.

It might also prejudice a current, ongoing custody battle with an ex or even other family members. The DUI might come to light in court to substantiate allegations of substance abuse, unfit parenting or both.

Impact on children

When courts decide to consider pending or successful convictions related to DUIs, they do so with the welfare of the children in mind. The Child Welfare Information Gateway identifies the following concerns:

  • Children living in homes where at least one person abuses substances face higher risks of maltreatment and ultimately entering the welfare system.
  • Children whose parent(s) suffer from substance abuse tend to remain in the system longer than others.
  • Substance abuse affects up to two-thirds of child welfare cases.

Unfortunately, this might paint a very different picture from reality. Not everyone accused of a DUI actually drove under the influence and one mistake does not make a person an alcoholic.

Impact on reuniting

When parents make attempts to reunite with children removed from the home, DUI allegations might add unwanted complexities. This holds true even if the substance the parent struggled with in the past was something else. Case workers might believe the parent is simply not in a position yet to care for children.

One reason for the skepticism is that parents often fail to reclaim a sober life. In fact, the University of Washington reports that only about 25% of mothers who abuse substances and lose children to the system successfully complete a drug treatment program.

Ultimately, most children want to return to parents and many feel traumatized by the separation. Some might not even understand why the separation took place. Thankfully, the child welfare system wants to return children to parents and might offer programs to make this possible.