Teens and DUI: Which Parent’s Responsibility?

Teens and DUI: Which Parent’s Responsibility?

When a teen driver is involved in a DUI (driving under the influence) arrest or accident, it is automatically assumed that the parents are going to be financially responsible for their actions. While this is the case for most events, there is also the issue of divorced parents. If the teen has divorced parents, determining who is going to be financially and legally responsible for this event becomes a little more difficult.

If your teen has been charged with a DUI, deciding which parent is responsible as well as determining what can be done for your child may be a question that a law firm, like the Wilson Law Firm, could be hired to solve. Having a lawyer to assist in unraveling the legal aspects can help to relieve some stress so that you can better deal with the emotional turmoil that a DUI can cause.

Questions That Must Be Asked

• Who was caring for the teen at the time of the incident?
• Was the parent aware of the teen drinking?
• Was the other parent aware of the drinking?
• Who owned the car in which the drunk driving took place?
• Where was the teen heading to or coming from at the time of the arrest?
• Have there been other incidences involving alcohol and either parent?
• Who is deemed financially responsible for the teen’s actions according to the divorce decree?
• Who is financially supporting the teen? If both parents, who is considered the main guardian?

This is just a sampling of the questions that must be asked and answered to determine who is going to be responsible for the actions of the teen.

Because divorce and custody laws vary by state, the state in which you reside may have specific guidelines to determine the responsible party. However, as a whole, the main guardian is most likely to be held responsible for the actions of the teen unless it can be proven without a doubt that the actions of the other parent are what caused this event to happen.

DUI Punishment For Teens

The punishment for DUI convictions is also regulated on a state level. Each state has the right to establish its own guidelines. Overall, most states have severe punishments for underage DUI offenders, but it usually does not include jail time.

Underage offenders may be required to serve extensive community service and pay large fines. They will have their license revoked for a specific period of time. In some areas, they may even be required to retake the driver’s test at age 18 if they wish to have driving privileges as an adult.

If an accident resulted from underage drinking, the penalties may be even more severe. At this point, it is easy to assume that the teen will spend time in juvenile detention. Restitution may also be required to the victim that is above any payments received from the insurance company.

Parents, divorced or not, need to stress to their teens the importance of refraining from underage drinking and the terrible consequences of a DUI. Encouraging your teen to remain safe will not only protect them, and those around them, but it will also help protect each parent from being financially and legally liable for the actions of their teen should they get arrested or cause an accident while driving under the influence.

Melanie Fleury is the mom of a preteen and cannot begin to imagine the emotional and mental stress that a DUI would cause the family. She has found in researching situations where legal issues are faced by a family, that the Wilson Law Firm of Virginia helps clients to relieve the stress of trying to navigate the court system.


First Time Filing Jointly? Tax Law Information You Should Know

(US law & generally)

First Time Filing Jointly? Tax Information You Should Know

Congratulations! You’re married. Now you’ve combined homes, kids and in-laws. Should you combine your tax returns as well? Marriage can save you money on your taxes, or you could end up penalized by filing a joint return. Read on for the benefits of filing jointly for the first time.

Can You File Jointly?

You must have been married on the last day of the tax year to be married in the eyes of the IRS, whether you’re declaring that you’re married filing jointly or married filing separately. You have to wait for the end of the tax year in which you got hitched to file your first joint tax return.

Should You File Jointly?

If you want to file as married filing separately, the IRS does not allow you to claim certain deductions and credits. If you want to take deductions for student loan interest, tuition and fees, the earned income deduction or education tax credits, you are better off filing jointly. Also, even if you each file separate tax returns, you both have to make the same choice between the standard deduction and itemizing your deductions, regardless of which option works better for each spouse.

Prior Debts

You could decide to file separately to keep any debts from before your marriage from affecting your new spouse. Any tax liens that have been imposed for unpaid child support, student loans or previous tax liability can be deducted from your tax refund. To keep tax liens from costing your spouse money, keep your returns separate until they’re paid off. If you still wish to file jointly, your spouse can file IRS form 8379, the Injured Spouse Allocation. This keeps the debt-free spouse from being penalized on their part of the return and allows you to take the deductions and credits available to joint filers. If you have any questions or concerns, it may be a good idea to contact an IRS lawyer that can help you determine the best way to file for your unique situation.

Issues for Stepparents

The question often comes up as to whether a stepparent can claim a stepchild as a dependent. If your spouse is legally able to claim her child as a dependent under her divorce settlement, you will also claim that child if you file jointly. The stepchild must be under age 19, under age 24 and a full-time student, or permanently and completely disabled. In addition, the child must have lived with you for more than 50 percent of the tax year and must have provided less than 50 percent of his or her own support. In addition, your spouse’s divorce agreement could give her the legal right to claim the child as a dependent regardless of whether the child resided with you for more than half the year.

Many factors go into the decision of whether or not to file jointly as a newly married couple. The biggest question may be, simply, which way saves you the most money. Depending on your incomes, filing jointly can make a lot of sense. On the other hand, the United States’ progressive tax rates can hit you with a huge “marriage penalty.” The best way to figure out the answer is to prepare your taxes both ways, jointly and separately, and file the version that gives you the lowest overall taxes.

Melanie Fleury is a married taxpayer that has filed both jointly and separately. She has found that hiring an IRS lawyer or tax service like Instant Tax Solutions is a great way to ensure that your taxes are being done properly and in the way that will benefit both you and your new spouse.


How Your DUI May Affect Your Case For Child Custody

Driving under the influence is a serious crime and is usually punished severely throughout the United States. The consequences that a person faces can span from a loss of license to substantial jail time. Fortunately, many people are able to live with these repercussions, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Individuals involved in child custody cases, for instance, can face serious difficulties due to a prior DUI.

Direct Effects of a DUI

There is no set rule that says a DUI will affect a child custody case, but in reality, it could turn out to be a huge factor. A judge presiding over a custodial case is going to look at potential red flags when making their decision. A DUI conviction, especially a recent one, can stand out as one of these red flags. The judge will likely believe that the conviction shows a certain lack of maturity, and this is never good when fighting for rights to one’s child.

Additionally, the fact that an individual has spent time in jail can also be detrimental. Not everyone will go to jail after a DUI conviction, but it’s a definite possibility. According to group of Orlando DUI attorneys in Florida’s Orange County, for instance, a person convicted of DUI can be sentenced to up to nine months in jail on their first conviction. This will obviously negatively affect an individual if they’re incarcerated during custody hearings, but even having the record will look bad.

Those who have had multiple DUI convictions will face even more difficulties during a child custody case. Multiple DUIs essentially show a reckless disregard of a state and locality’s laws. A judge will not look fondly upon this, and additionally, they may believe that the individual places alcohol over their own, and potentially even their child’s, well-being.

Other Difficulties

Unfortunately, it’s not only the criminal consequences that can affect a child custody case. A driver’s license suspension, for instance, is an administrative punishment. This repercussion can stop a person from working due to a lack of transportation. Sadly, a judge is more likely to deny a person the custodial rights that they’re seeking if they’re unable to work for a living wage.

Some people think they can avoid the aforementioned situation if they work from home or have others transport them to and from work. It’s important to note, however, that the license suspension can still have negative effects on a child custody case. The simple inability to drive may be viewed as a reason to deny custody since the parent will be unable to drive their child to essential places like school and doctor’s appointments.

Individuals who don’t have families face a difficult enough time when convicted of a DUI, but those facing child custody cases are in an especially difficult spot. This is why it’s so essential for an individual to fight a DUI conviction as hard as they possibly can, and this includes finding legal help to avoid having a blemish on a criminal record. A failed breathalyzer or DUI charge is never an automatic conviction, but without legal help, it may likely seem that way.

Melanie Fleury lived in Orlando and has seen many DUI checkpoints. Orlando DUI attorneys Katz & Phillips know that every DUI case is unique. By having an attorney to help you mitigate your circumstances, you may be able to avoid the many penalties that can be laid down on a DUI offense.