Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child in the car is always a danger to the child, and the State of California recognizes a DUI with a minor as a violation of Vehicle Code 23572.
The State has penalties for a simple DUI (VC 23152) and enhanced penalties for a DUI with a minor under the age of 14. In addition, there is another charge that can be added for child endangerment if appropriate.
The child endangerment charge is not limited to children under the age of 14. It applies to children under the age of 18. So, it is possible that DUI driving with an older child in the car can still get you arrested.
The penalties get more serious as the DUI incidents mount up. A driver that continues to drive while intoxicated will see jail or prison time increased for each subsequent violation.
A first-time conviction for a California DUI with a child will probably be classified a misdemeanor with up to a year in jail possible.
But child endangerment could be classified as a felony and can result in prison time of up to six years. If you were charged with both offenses, you would only have to serve the penalty of the most serious offense.
If there was an accident and an injury to the child in the car, the DUI is considered Aggravated DUI and treated as a Class 4 felony with additional penalties given.
While DUI with a minor in the car and child endangerment will not lead to taking away your child, however, either charge will be reported to Child Protective Services (CPS) who will investigate the incident. CPS has the authority to take away your child.
At the scene of the DUI, it is possible that the Peace Officer will call the family to pick up the child or will call Child Protective Services for assistance.
A DUI has its own set of penalties that can include fines, time in jail, suspended license, an Interlock Ignition Device, and classes for driver education or drug rehabilitation. The driver’s insurance will probably go up as well.
There can be additional DUI charges and penalties for excessive speed and reckless driving (VC 23582), and excessive BAC or test refusal (VC 23578).
In addition to the basic DUI penalties assessed, California VC 23572 provides the following sentence enhancements for DUI with a child in the car:
California Penal Code 273 defines child endangerment as the willfully exposing of a child under the age of 18 to unjustifiable suffering, pain, or danger and applies even if the child never suffers actual physical harm.
Child endangerment is not a DUI charge in itself. Although it is considered an “enhancement” to DUI penalties, it is a separate charge that reflects the negligent care of a child. It is the same charge that is often used in domestic violence crimes.
In DUI cases, where there were no injuries to the child, enhanced penalties for child endangerment include:
The judge may issue a protective order regarding the child, that may include an order for you not to consume alcohol (or drugs) during the probationary period. The judge may also give a “stay away” order that keeps you from visiting your child or children.
The CPS may decide to investigate you further as a result of a DUI with a minor. The investigation may involve a visit to your home. They will be looking at things like whether your home is safe, how you treat your children, how you feed and care for them, and your possible dependence on alcohol or drugs. It is best that you cooperate with this investigation and answer any questions truthfully to have the best chance to keep custody of your children
There are several defenses for DUI with a minor. A Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney can challenge the basic elements of the DUI including the accuracy of any blood tests, the reliability of any field tests, and the peace officer’s interpretation of erratic driving, among others.
An attorney can show that you were not guilty of the DUI in the first place. They can show there was no child under 14 in the car. And they can state the peace officer stopped or arrested you without probable cause.
They can defend against the claim that the child was endangered. And they can represent you if there is a recommendation for CPS involvement.
Fighting a DUI charge, especially if a repeat offense, is difficult enough. That, alone, calls for legal representation. But when you face added charges of DUI with a child or child endangerment, it becomes all the more important to have the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys provide your defense.
At this point, your family could be at risk and the custody of your children could be at stake. Call us for a free consultation.
Contact Attorney Daniel Perlman or Matthew Cohen today at the office of Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys, (310) 557-1700.