DUI + Child Passengers = Double Trouble
If you are arrested for a DUI in California and you have a child 14 years or younger as a passenger in the car then you will likely be charged with a DUI sentencing enhancement under California Vehicle Code Section 23572.
Section 23572 states in part:
“23572. (a) If any person is convicted of a violation of Section
23152 and a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger in the
vehicle at the time of the offense, the court shall impose the
following penalties in addition to any other penalty prescribed:
This statute then goes on to list increased jail time for DUI’s depending on how many DUI’s you have been convicted of in the past 10 years. If this is your second DUI within the past 10 years then the the added punishment is 10 days in jail, on the third DUI in the past 10 years the added punishment is 30 days, and for a fourth DUI the added punishment is 90 days.
Child Endangerment Under the Penal Code as an Alternative Method of Punishment
If one is stopped and arrested for DUI and a child is a passenger in the car a district attorney can chose to forgo using the enhancement described above and can add charges under Penal Code Section 273a. Penal Code Section 273a
Penal code section 273a reads:
“273a. (a) Any person who… having the care or custody of any child… willfully causes or permits that child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in the state prison for two, four, or six years.”
By taking this approach of charging child endangerment under penal code section 273a, a district attorney can take a more aggressive and punitive approach to the case. Under this section one being charged can face misdemeanor or felony criminal liability. The results can be more jail time than would be required under the DUI charge.
If You Were Stopped For DUI With A Child in the Car -Call Us! (805) 621-7181
If you were arrested for a DUI and a child was a passenger in the car you should get help right away. A skilled DUI lawyer will be able to work with the district attorney in an attempt to avoid added penalties, or will know whether you are better served to fight the DUI charge all together. If a District Attorney cannot prove you were under the influence while driving, they should not be able to establish that the child was in danger sufficient for a conviction under penal code section 273a.