With alcohol flowing freely at family BBQs and birthday parties, sports
games, and holiday gatherings, it happens: parents enjoy a couple of drinks,
collect their family members (kids included), and head home.
What seems like a natural chain of events quickly takes a turn for the
worse when you see the red and blue lights flashing in your rear-view
mirror, and your kids are buckled up in the back.
Enhancements for Having a Minor in the Vehicle
Under Vehicle Code 23572 VC, if you are convicted of misdemeanor
DUI and you had a child under the age of 14 in your car at the time of the
arrest, you face sentence enhancements. Your level of intoxication, and
the circumstances surrounding your case will determine what happens next.
What matters most to the court is that: 1) you were driving under the influence,
and 2) there was a minor under the age of 14 in your vehicle when you
If your attorney can successfully fight your DUI case, the court won’t
impose an increase penalty for having a child passenger at the time of
Penalties for a violation of VC 23572:
- For a first conviction, up to 48 hours in jail
- For a second conviction, up to 10 days in jail
- For a third conviction, up to 30 days in jail
- For a fourth conviction, up to 90 days in jail
Child Endangerment Charges
If there was a minor in your vehicle at the time of your DUI, you can be
charged with a separate crime under Penal Code 273a, child endangerment
– a misdemeanor or a felony.
In DUI cases involving a child passenger, the prosecutor may elect to charge
the driver with the DUI sentencing enhancement, or with the separate crime
of child endangerment, or they can charge the defendant with
Under section 273a, the law punishes people who willfully cause or permit
children to be placed in a situation where the child’s health or
safety is endangered, and California lawmakers decided that drunk driving
fits this description.
Which charge will it be?
For a simple
first-time DUI with a borderline BAC around .09%, it’s likely that the prosecutor
would be satisfied with charging the defendant with a DUI sentencing enhancement,
instead of with PC 273a.
A conviction for child endangerment carries sentencing ranges from up to
one year in jail to up to six years in a California State prison. In contrast,
a violation of 23572 VC is punishable by a maximum of 180 days in jail.
You do the math.
Don’t risk your kids’ future, or incarceration for a one-time
mistake. Contact an
Orange County DUI defense lawyer
from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. immediately for a strong defense!