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DUI & Child Endangerment Laws in California

V C § 23572 Minor Passenger: Enhanced Penalty

California law takes drunk driving very seriously, especially if a child is in the car. In some states, driving drunk with a minor passenger is a separate criminal offense. In California, drivers face an "enhanced penalty" for driving with a young passenger in the car.

According to the law, a "minor passenger" is anyone less 14 years old.

In order to enact the penalty enhancement, the prosecution must demonstrate that you drove under the influence of alcohol. Simply put, if you are convicted of misdemeanor DUI with a minor passenger, you can face additional penalties.

It doesn't matter if you intended to harm the child, if your BAC was over the limit, or if your driving pattern was relatively safe; if law enforcement can show that you were driving under the influence, the penalties applies.

What are the penalties for DUI with a child?

Your first misdemeanor DUI with a child in the car is punishable by an additional 48 hours of incarceration. Second convictions are punishable by another 10 days in jail; third convictions are punishable by an additional 30 days; and fourth convictions can lead to an additional 90 days in jail.

According to California law, a "previous" DUI is any drunk driving conviction that occurred within the past ten years.

Drunk Driving Laws & Child Endangerment

Although some states have "DUI child endangerment statutes," California recognizes these crimes as separate offenses. If you were charged with DUI and law enforcement believes that a child was in car, you can face separate criminal charges. The prosecutor can choose to charge you with:

  • DUI with a penalty enhancement under V C § 23572
  • DUI and child endangerment (a separate offense) under Penal Code 273(a)
  • DUI with a penalty enhancement and child endangerment

California law cracks down on individuals who knowingly place a child in a situation where his / her health and / or welfare are placed in jeopardy. This is child endangerment. Because there is some overlap between DUI with a child passenger and child endangerment, you can face several charges for the same offense.

If you were arrested for DUI with a child passenger, contact a defense attorney from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. today.