Being charged for a DUI can be a terrifying, life-changing experience even under ordinary circumstances. If you are pulled over for drunk driving and you’re discovered with a child passenger, you’re looking at consequences far greater than those associated with the average DUI. You could be slapped with aggravated penalties and even charged with child endangerment.

In any situation involving a DUI, particularly a DUI with a child passenger, you need aggressive legal representation as you are at risk of losing far more than just your license. Read on to discover the degrees of difference in DUIs involving child passengers.

(For all your DUI needs and inquiries, you can schedule a free consultation with the experienced team at Confianza Legal.)

Understanding The Average DUI

In the state of California, a DUI has a range of consequences based on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Most first-offense DUIs are charged as misdemeanors with the exception of certain circumstances, such as if your driving resulted in someone being killed or severely injured. Further DUIs can be charged as felonies, which comes with greater penalties.

With any DUI, you are looking at fines, jail time, probation, and suspension of your license. There are other potential consequences, including having an interlock device secured to your vehicle, an increase in your auto insurance rates, and potential complications with your employment and housing.

You can also be subject to additional charges if you drove recklessly‚Äďup to 20 MPH over the speed limit‚Äďor if you refused to take a breathalyzer or other test to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC).

Penalties For DUI With A Child Passenger

California Vehicle Code 23572 VC provides for additional penalties if you are charged with a DUI with a child passenger aged 14 or younger. Regardless of whether this is your first offense, you are looking at jail time.

In addition to the penalties described above, you can be met with these further consequences if you are convicted:

  • For a first offense, 48 additional hours in jail
  • For a second offense within ten years of your first, 10 additional days in jail
  • For a third offense within ten years, 30 additional days in jail
  • For a fourth offense within ten years, 90 additional days in jail

For each of these penalties, the sentence cannot be stayed, meaning that you will not be able to avoid serving your jail time.

Child Endangerment Charges

In addition to these penalties, you can be charged with child endangerment if you are convicted. The charges for child endangerment will be determined in addition to the penalties that you suffer as a consequence of the DUI charge.

In order to convict you of child endangerment, the prosecution will have to prove that you drove under the influence with a minor under the age of 18 in the vehicle, and that the minor was thereby exposed to danger. Though enhanced penalties only apply for children under the age of 14, you can still face child endangerment charges if you are caught driving under the influence with a minor below the age of 18.

California Penal Code 273a defines child endangerment, in part, as willfully causing or permitting a child to be placed in a position where his or her health is endangered. Your conviction can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of your encounter with law enforcement. If your intoxicated driving resulted in an accident or injury to the child, you are likely dealing with felony child endangerment. In addition to the consequences outlined above, here are the potential penalties you are facing if you are found guilty of child endangerment:

  • For a misdemeanor child endangerment charge, you may spend up to six months in jail and pay a fine of up to $1,000. You will also be eligible for a minimum of four years of probation, during which time you might be ordered to stay away from the child you endangered and to not have residence with the child, meaning you can be barred from your home if the child regularly lives with you. You might also have to complete a counseling program lasting a year or more and be subject to drug and alcohol prohibition with random drug testing conducted by your probation officer.
  • For a felony child endangerment charge, you are looking at up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Alternatively, you can be sentenced to four or more years of probation with the same conditions as those for a misdemeanor.

If you are convicted of child endangerment, you can eventually have your record expunged provided you complete the terms of your sentencing and probation.

Potential Legal Defenses

Your child endangerment charge hinges on the presumed conviction of your DUI. If your lawyer can prove that you did not drive under the influence, or that a mistake was made in your arrest, there are no grounds on which to convict you for child endangerment. If you wish to avoid any charges, you will need an experienced DUI lawyer like those at Confianza Legal in your corner. Your lawyer will work with you regarding the circumstances of your arrest in order to construct an effective strategy.

There are several potential legal defenses that can be employed to defend against DUI accusations and the concomitant accusations of child endangerment.

  • Your lawyer might argue that the results of your breathalyzer, field sobriety test, or BAC test were inaccurate. These types of tests can be calibrated incorrectly or not account for factors like weight. Poor performance on field sobriety tests, in particular, can be dismissed as circumstantial.
  • Your lawyer might argue that your driving was not impaired and the responding police officer violated protocol by pulling you over.
  • Your lawyer might argue that you were not given your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest.
  • Your lawyer might seek to prove that you did not drive with a minor in the car in the first place.

And more! After getting to know you and your specific situation, your legal counsel will help guide you throughout the process and advise you how best to conduct your defensive strategy.

Reach Out To Confianza Legal For All Your DUI Defense Needs

At Confianza Legal, we have over twenty years of experience having DUI charges reduced or dismissed. We take care to give our clients personalized attention so that we can respond to the specific needs that meet your circumstances, and we are never judgemental of those circumstances. We believe that everyone deserves redemption and everyone deserves a second chance. If you’ve been charged with a DUI, whether that DUI involves a child passenger or not, we can walk you through your options when you schedule a free consultation through our website or by giving us a call.