Drunken Father Leaves Child in Car

As reported by Amanda Milkovits in the June 16, 2015 edition of the Providence Journal, a Massachusetts man has been arrested for child neglect. The man was in Providence and left his nine (9) year old son in his car and went to a bar. Someone in the parking garage noticed the boy and called police. The man was eventually located at bar in Providence. He was attempting to find his son and drive home.

Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 11-9-5, child neglect is defined as every person having the custody or control of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years who shall abandon that child, or who shall treat the child with gross or habitual cruelty, or who shall wrongfully cause or permit that child to be an habitual sufferer for want of food, clothing, proper care, or oversight, or who shall use or permit the use of that child for any wanton, cruel, or improper purpose, or who shall compel, cause, or permit that child to do any wanton or wrongful act, or who shall cause or permit the home of that child to be the resort of lewd, drunken, wanton, or dissolute persons, or who by reason of neglect, cruelty, drunkenness, or depravity, shall render the home of that child a place in which it is unfit for that child to live, or who shall neglect or refuse to pay the reasonable charges for the support of that child, whenever the child shall be placed by him or her in the custody of, or be assigned by any court to, any individual, association, or corporation, shall be guilty of a felony.

The penalties if convicted include imprisonment for not less than one year nor more than three (3) years, or be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both, and the child may be proceeded against as a neglected child under the provisions of chapter 1 of title 14.

(b) In addition to any penalty provided in this section, any person convicted or placed on probation for this offense may be required to receive psychosociological counseling in child growth, care and development as a part of that sentence or probation.

If the man had driven the car with his child, he would have been charged with drunk driving pursuant to R.I.G.L. 31-27-2. If convicted he would face penalties including a fine, community service, DUI school or alcohol counseling and a period of license suspension. He could be sentenced to up to one (1) year imprisonment but that is rarely imposed.

The Rhode Island General Assembly has attempted to pass new legislation regarding drunk driving and children. In 2013, a bill was addressed to make drunk driving with children in the car a felony charge instead of a misdemeanor. The penalties proposed was a two (2) year loss of license, up to five (5) years imprisonment, alcohol counseling and up to $5,000.00 fine. The legislation did not pass.

If you or a family member has been charged with drunk driving, drunk driving with children or other DUI offenses, please allow Attorney Robert H. Humphrey’s reputation, experience and skill to successfully guide you through the legal process. Please contact Attorney Robert H. Humphrey, Esq., at 401-816-5862 or e-mail him at

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