DUI with a Minor Passenger
DUI and Child Endangerment Laws in California
California DUI laws are not lenient. That's why our Santa Barbara criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to making sure that innocent drivers are not wrongfully accused and convicted of driving under the influence. According to California law, any person less than 14 years old is considered a "minor" passenger. If law enforcement suspect that you drove under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a minor in the car, you may be subject to enhanced DUI penalties and allegations of child endangerment. These are serious charges. If you were accused, our team of DUI defense lawyers can help you avoid an unnecessary DUI or child endangerment conviction.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 17% of automobile accidents that result in a child's death are caused by impaired drivers. In 2010 alone, more than 200 children were killed by drunk drivers. More than half of these deaths were caused by drivers with blood alcohol levels that exceeded the legal limit (.08%). An additional 25 minors were killed in pedestrian or bicycle accidents that involved a driver with a BAC over .08%. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we understand the serious nature of drunk driving – especially when it places a child in danger. However, convicting an innocent person of DUI is wrong too. If you were accused of driving under the influence with child in the car, our team is ready to stand up for your rights in court.
Enhanced DUI Penalties
It is illegal to drive with a BAC of .08% of more in all fifty states. In California, a DUI conviction can be accompanied by enhanced penalties, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Under California Vehicle Code § 23572, a DUI conviction may be accompanied by enhanced penalties if the driver is found with a minor passenger in the vehicle. The following consequences may be imposed with standard drunk driving penalties:
- First offense – An additional 48 consecutive hours of incarceration
- Second offense – An additional ten days of incarceration
- Third offense – An additional 30 days of incarceration. The driver may also become a "habitual traffic offender."
- Fourth & subsequent offenses – An additional 90 days of incarceration.
Child Endangerment and DUI Penalties
Each state has different laws that involve child endangerment and drunk driving. Generally speaking, the term "child endangerment" refers to any situation in which a child's caregiver fails to properly care for the child. Child endangerment laws do not mention drunk driving, but driving under the influence of alcohol with a minor in the car meets the legal qualifications of child endangerment. According to California Penal Code 270-273.75, child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor of felony offense. Misdemeanor child endangerment is punishable by one year of incarceration. Felony child endangerment is subject to severe penalties, including six years of incarceration.
If you are arrested for DUI with a minor passenger, prosecution has the option to charge you with DUI with a minor passenger, child endangerment, or both criminal offenses.