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DUI With Minor Under the Age of 14 in the Car - Vehicle Code §23572

Driving under the influence with a child under 14 in the vehicle, otherwise known as “DUI with child endangerment” carries with it more severe penalties and this is covered under California Vehicle Code §23572. For a first time DUI offense, aggravated with child endangerment, will automatically include a 48-hour jail sentence at minimum.

This offense will add more jail time besides the usual DUI penalties. Due to how the penalties are imposed under this section of the law, a person convicted of this offense will always serve time in jail.

The additional jail time in DUI with child endangerment also increases for each DUI offense that you have committed in the past. To illustrate better, the following chart will show how much the jail time increases for each DUI committed in the past:

  • 1st offense = additional 48 hours of jail time on top of the usual DUI penalties
  • 2nd offense = additional 10 days of jail time on top of the usual DUI penalties
  • 3rd offense = additional 30 days of jail time on top of the usual DUI penalties
  • 4th offense misdemeanor DUI = additional 90 days of jail time on top of the usual DUI penalties

Take note that these increased penalties only apply to a misdemeanor DUI. If the charge is for a felony DUI, California Vehicle Code §23572 will not apply. Also, these previous DUI convictions must have occurred within 10 years prior to the DUI with a child under 14 in the vehicle.

What Are the Elements of DUI with Child Endangerment Offense?

The prosecutor only needs to prove two things to enhance a normal DUI to one with child endangerment:

  • You were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both
  • There was a child under the age of 14 inside the vehicle when you were driving under the influence

With these two things proven, the penalty for an otherwise standard DUI will be enhanced. It does not matter if you were driving in a reckless matter or whether or not you intended to harm the child, or that your BAC was lower than 0.08%. So long as it is proven that you were driving under the influence while a child under 14 was with you inside the vehicle, then the penalty will be enhanced.

Possible Defenses Against DUI with Child Endangerment

The penalty enhancement will only apply if the base charge against you were for violating either:

  1. California Vehicle Code §23152 (a) – Driving under the influence
  2. California Vehicle Code §23152 (b) - Driving under the influence with a BAC of 0.08% or more

A possible defense strategy is to have the DUI case dismissed altogether through legal strategies employed to defend against a DUI. If the DUI case is dismissed then there is nothing to enhance via California Vehicle Code §23572.

Another way to defend against DUI with child endangerment is to have the charge lowered via plea bargaining (your lawyer will negotiate for a lower offense such as a "wet reckless" rather than a DUI). If the plea negotiation is accepted then California Vehicle Code §23572 cannot apply anymore because it can only apply to either California Vehicle Code §23152 (a) or California Vehicle Code §23152 (b).

Can California Penal Code §273a for “Child Endangerment” be also charged along with California Vehicle Code §23572?

California Penal Code §273a is a criminal offense for placing a child in a situation where their health and welfare may be endangered and that includes driving under the influence.

The prosecutors can charge you with:

  • DUI under VC §23152 (a) or §23152 (b) with enhanced penalties of VC §23572
  • Separate crime of child endangerment under PC §273a
  • DUI under VC §23152 (a) or §23152 (b) AND PC §273a

You cannot be convicted of both VC §23572 and PC §273a at the same time because the courts are prohibited from imposing enhanced DUI penalties from VC §23572 if you’ve also been convicted of PC §273a.

However, it is important to note that even if the child is not under the age of 14, you can still be charged separately with child endangerment under PC §273a so long as the minor that you were in the vehicle with was under the age of 18. A violation of PC §273a, child endangerment, is a serious offense and is usually reserved for the most serious DUI incidents involving a child in the vehicle.

A DUI charge is a difficult thing to manage and navigate on your own. With the enhanced penalties under VC §23572, it becomes even more impactful because this will mean that you will definitely serve time in jail. Matters become even direr if a DUI offense is charged with a violation of PC §273a, child endangerment. You will want to consult and secure the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney to assist you in navigating the legal complexities of these charges. You will want to avoid a conviction at all costs because it can have severe effects on your life. Although we are fielding inquiries from a lot of people in similar situations, we will do our best to put you in contact with an experienced DUI lawyer from our firm.

If you need assistance with a DUI with child endangerment charge or arrest, do not hesitate to contact us at (626) 827-7222 to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced DUI attorneys at no cost.

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