Drunk Driving with a Minor Passenger
DUI & Child Death Statistics
Drunk driving is a serious crime – especially if it involves a child passenger. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 17% of car accidents that resulted in the death of a child were caused by drunk drivers. In 2010, more than 200 children (less than 14 years old) were killed in DUI-related automobile accidents. 62% of these accidents were caused by drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than .08%. 25 children were struck and killed by drivers with a BAC that exceeded the legal limit.
DUI Lawyers in Ventura, CA
These statistics are tragic, but these numbers do not suggest that every DUI arrest is legitimate. In fact, the presence of a child in the car may cause law enforcement to make an overzealous assumption that a driver is impaired. Under California Vehicle Code § 23572, drunk driving penalties can be enhanced by the presence of a minor passenger. If convicted, you may be subject to standard DUI penalties and other legal consequences. That's why our firm is dedicated to standing up for the rights of the criminally accused in court.
Drunk Driving With a Minor Passenger in California
California drunk driving laws are strict. It doesn't matter if you intended to hurt the child; you can face enhanced penalties for driving under the influence with a minor in the car. According to California Vehicle Code § 23572, any driver convicted of a misdemeanor DUI with a child in the car may be subject to the following penalties:
- First offense – The court may order six months of incarceration and a $1,000 fine to any person convicted of misdemeanor DUI for the first time. If a child is present, the defendant can face an additional 48 consecutive hours in county jail.
- Second offense – Second offense penalties only apply if the driver is arrested for drunk driving twice within ten years. In addition to standard DUI penalties, the driver may face ten days in a county jail.
- Third offense – If convicted of drunk driving three times in ten years, the court may label you as a "habitual traffic offender." If the third offense involved a minor passenger, the court may order an additional 30 days of incarceration.
- Subsequent offenses – Fourth and subsequent offenses (within ten years) are punishable by one year of incarceration and a $1,000 fine. You may also lose your driving privilege. If a child passenger was involved, the court can order an additional 90 days of incarceration.
Drunk Driving and the California Child Endangerment Law
California Penal Code § 270-273.75 describes California's child endangerment laws. If law enforcement believes that you drove under the influence of alcohol with a child in the car, prosecution can elect to charge you with DUI enhanced penalties, child endangerment, or both offenses. Child endangerment can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. Misdemeanor child endangerment is punishable by one year in jail, while a felony conviction may result in six years of incarceration.
Contact Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP Today
If you or a loved one was accused of driving under the influence of alcohol with a child in the car, call our office today. We have successfully represented clients more than 200 jury trials. Let us use our understanding of DUI and criminal defense to your advantage in court.
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