Understanding Child Endangerment Laws and DUI in California
One Type of Enhanced Penalty: Minor Passengers in Vehicle.
Some states in the US separate their general driving under the influence, or DUI, laws from DUI with a minor in the vehicle. California is different. The state’s laws take drunk driving extremely seriously. Therefore, it does not separate the two criminal charges. It combines them into what it is considered “enhanced penalties.” In other words, you face tougher penalties if you are stopped and arrested for DUI while having a minor in the vehicle.
Enhanced Penalty: VC 23572
The state’s vehicle code 23572 is devoted to punishing drivers who have minors in the vehicle while driving under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs. The law defines a minor as anyone who is under 14 years old.
A driver is not automatically guilty of DUI with a minor in his or her vehicle with enhanced penalties. A prosecutor must show that he or she drove under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol at the time of the stop. In other words, if you are convicted of DUI misdemeanor with a minor in the vehicle, then you can face enhanced penalties.
Keep in mind that it does not matter if you intended to hurt the child while driving. According to state law, you may be charged if:
- Your BAC was 0.08 or more.
- Your driving behavior was unsafe.
- The state can show that you were driving under the influence of alcohol and/ or drugs.
In the above situations, the enhanced penalties applies.
What are the DUI with a Child Penalties?
Well, the first DUI with a minor in the vehicle misdemeanor is punishable by an extra 48 hours of jail time. A second conviction of the same charge is another 10 days in jail. A third conviction for the same offense is an addition month, or 30 days, in jail. It is 90 days in jail for a fourth or subsequent conviction of DUI with a minor in the vehicle.
California law can be technical when it comes to DUI and what is considered a second, third, fourth or subsequent conviction. A previous conviction is considered a DUI with child in the vehicle misdemeanor that occurred within 10 years of each other.
Child Endangerment and DUI Laws
Many states have DUI child endangerment laws. However, California has made child endangerment and DUI two separate criminal charges. If you were charged with DUI and police believe that you had a minor in your vehicle at the time, you are charged with separate offenses. A California prosecutor can charge you with:
- VC 23572. The DUI with an enhanced penalty.
- Penal Code 237(a). This is where you are charged separately with two crimes: DUI and child endangerment.
- Child endangerment and DUI with penalty enhanced.
California is tough on drivers who knowingly place a child in a dangerous situation. This dangerous situation includes his or her health or welfare being in jeopardy. That is what defines child endangerment. Since there is some overlap between child endangerment and DUI with a minor passenger, you can face multiple charges for the same criminal offense.
If you were arrested for DUI with a minor passenger, contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Franklin today to schedule a free consultation. It is important to start building your defense to the charges immediately.