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Drunk Driving and Canadian Children's Aid Society (CAS) and Custody Implications

A DUI can result in numerous consequences. One of the less commonly noted ones is that it may bring your life under the scrutiny of your local Childrens' Aid Society.

If you are caught drinking and driving with your children in the car, you will be considered at a high risk to your children’s well being. This means a social worker may become involved in your life. Children’s Aid social workers frequently take custody of children whose parents drink and drive.

CAS can get involved even if the kids are not in the car

Sometimes even getting caught with a DUI without the kids in the car will lead to CAS involvement. CAS may investigate your matter and allege that even though you weren’t caught drinking and driving with the kids in the car that you have done so in the past.

If a social worker is assigned to your case they will investigate by:

  1. Interviewing you
  2. Interviewing your children and family members
  3. Investigating your life schedule, your children’s schedule, and typical habits
  4. Searching your house and vehicle for evidence of alcohol abuse – including empty bottles, bank and credit card statements for evidence of alcohol purchases, etc.

A social worker will look through cupboards for bottles, surprise your kids at school for a questioning session, show up at the door at weird hours for a visit, and use other means to search for evidence that puts the well being of the children into question. Often times, a DUI is the first step in this process, even if the kids are not in the car at the time of the arrest.

Fighting CAS in court is a difficult task in alcohol related cases. Courts see alcohol abuse as something that is extremely difficult to control and a problem that can flare up at any time. Furthermore, many individuals on the advice of treatment programs readily admit to the world they are an “alcoholic” or have a problem with alcohol. Once this admission is made, they are irreversibly labelled an alcoholic and will always be looked upon with suspicion by the police and CAS. 

Custody and Access (Family Law) Implications

If you are charged with DUI, be aware that this will likely be used against you if you ever have to dispute custody or access to your children in family court. Allegations of alcohol abuse are common in custody disputes, but a DUI charge can be viewed by the court of evidence that allegation is true and that you represent a significant risk to your children. When the court applies the “best interest” test of who the children will be better off with, having a DUI charge can severely hurt you.

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