DUI with Passenger under 14

California DUI penalties and sentencing structure are case specific, some factors include whether it’s you first, second, third, or subsequent conviction, also there are a number of other aggravating factors that can seriously effect your sentence.

One of these aggravating factors is California’s DUI “child endangerment” sentencing enhancement.  If you are arrested for DUI and you have a child in the vehicle who is under the age of 14 years old prosecutors may likely charge you with VC34572 in addition to the DUI, VC23152(a) and VC23152(b).   If convicted of both a DUI and child endangerment the court will most likely impose additional sentencing including the possibility of jail time. 

The California Vehicle Code 23572 is straightforward and basically if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor DUI and at the time of physical control there was a minor under the age of 14 in the car, DUI sentencing enhancements apply.  Factors such as: whether there was intent on the drivers part to harm the child, the level of the drivers intoxication or your driving pattern or behaviors don’t really apply or matter.  This part of the section is primarily focusing of the two basic and fundamental questions of:

1. Whether you were driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and under the influence, and

2. Whether at the time of the arrest there was a child in the vehicle who was under the age of 14.

Defending against VC23572 Allegations

Remember that the DUI enhancement penalty is for having children in the vehicle under the age of 14 will only apply to the case of those who have been convicted of VC23152 driving under the influence.  Attorney Vincent Ross of Ross Law Center states that “if we can successfully and aggressively fight your DUI case, then the court cannot impose the enhancement factor for having a child as a passenger.”

Also, even if Ross Law Center cannot get your case completely dismissed, a plea bargain to t reduce the DUI charge, for example to a wet-reckless, then the enhancement punishment of the section no longer applies.

DUI and Penal Code 273a, California Child Endangerment Law

The California Penal Code 273(a), California Child Endangerment Law is a separate criminal offense that can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony.  In cases where a person is driving while intoxicated and there is a minor passenger under the age of 14, prosecutors could charge either the DUI sentencing enhancement OR

Both.  The Penal Code 273a charges and penalizes those who willfully place a child it a situation where there is imminent risk of a child’s health and/or welfare may be endangered. California courts have found that driving under the influence with a child passenger to fall into this category.   This means that you may be charged with child endangerment regardless of:

1. The age of a minor passenger, prosecutors can charge this offense for anyone who is under the age of 18, and

2. whether prosecutors filed the DUI as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Moreover, California Penal Code 273a child endangerment charges are very serious however they are not automatically filed in every case where there is an allegation of DUI and a child as a passenger.  If a person is convicted of a child endangerment and the charge is a misdemeanor you can face up to one year in a county jail.  If  convicted of a felony child endangerment you can face up to 6 years in a California State Prison, however in relation to VC23572 it would only subject a person to a maximum of 180 days in jail.  In closing, if a person is convicted of both DUI and PC273(a), the court cannot impose the additional sentencing enhancement under VC23572.

Conclusion, if you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI and there was a minor passenger call Ross Law Center today and schedule your free office consultation immediately.  Ross Law Center will discuss the process, listen to your case, and help you in making the best decision for your case.  Call Ross Law Center today because Experience Counts!   

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