The state of California provides very strict laws for anyone arrested for Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The law further provides increased punishments and penalties for offenders arrested driving with a minor below 14 years of age. This is called “DUI with Child endangerment” set in VEH 23572 VC. It involves compulsory jail time over and above the standard set DUI penalties. What this means is that if convicted for DUI with a minor in your vehicle, you will automatically serve jail time.
DUI involving a passenger below the age of 14 is one of the most serious and heavily punished offenses. If facing such allegations, sitting and waiting for the consequences is not the best thing to do, you can contact the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney that has vast experience in dealing with these type of cases to start preparing your defense.
VC 23572 – DUI with Passenger Under 14
Under the California law VEH section 23572, when found guilty of a DUI involving a child below 14 years in your car, there are sentence enhancements over the standard sentences of a DUI offender. The law is divided such that should this happen, you are charged with two criminal offenses; you will be charged with DUI with Passenger below 14 years of age and Child Endangerment. This means, if found guilty, you can be sentenced of both or either of the criminal charges.
The law is very strict on this as a means of putting discouragement to committing such an offense and protecting the youth of California. It is also possible to be maliciously accused of a DUI involving a minor under 14 and should you be convicted, you will still face the harsh penalties, and a jail term is mandatory, meaning it cannot be substituted for anything else. In case you find yourself faced with such a legal predicament, engaging a qualified and experienced Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is crucial for your defense.
The chart below indicates the jail time you are likely to face if convicted of a DUI involving a child in the vehicle as stipulated by VC23572.
- 1st Time offender
- 2nd time offender
- 3rd time offender
- 4th time offender Misdemeanor DUI
VC 23572 Sentence enhancement for DUI with a minor in the car.
- 48 hours of jail time
- 10 days of jail time
- 30 days of jail time
- you will serve 90 days jail time
What The Prosecutor Must Prove To be Convicted of VC23572 DUI with Passenger below 14
The VEH 23572 VC law is not complicated. If found guilty of a DUI misdemeanor and it is proven that you were with a child in your car when you got arrested, then automatically a DUI involving a minor endangerment sentence enhancement applies.
It does not matter:
- If you never purported to hurt the child
- Your intoxication level
- How you were driving
What really matters in VEH 23572 is:
- If you were found driving while intoxicated, and
- If a minor below 14 years was inside the vehicle when you got
How to Fight Against a DUI Involving a Minor Endangerment Sentence Enhancement
Note: it is important to know that the punishment or penalty for a DUI involving a child below 14 only applies if you get to be convicted of VEH 23152(a) VC DUI or VEH 23152(b) VC driving while with 0.08% BAC or more.
Should your attorney successfully fight the DUI case, it is impossible for the court to impose an enhanced penalty because of having a minor in your car when you got arrested because VC 23572 is not applicable.
In the event that your attorney is unable to get an acquittal for the case based on the standard DUI defenses, with his help you can enter a reduction plea bargain for a DUI charge and by doing this, you avoid sentence increment for a DUI involving a minor in the vehicle.
Your attorney can also be able to negotiate down your DUI charges to that of “wet reckless” or that of “dry reckless” in which case the California VEH 23572 VC will not apply.
What is a “Wet Reckless” Plea
Plea bargaining is not prohibited in DUI cases in California. However, there are conditions when a plea bargain is allowed; these are:
- The prosecution is unable to prove the DUI charge because of weak evidence
- The prosecution is not able to obtain testimony from a key witness
- When a plea deal will not result in a significant change in the sentence.
However, should a prosecutor agree to reduce a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge, he is expected to explain to the court on record the reasons leading to the reduction. He is also required to explain if the offense involved drugs or alcohol and facts supporting the decision.
Why You Should Plead to Reckless driving
When you get charged with a DUI with a passenger under 14, pleading to reckless driving is a better sentence because:
- Reckless driving violation penalties are less severe as compared to those of a DUI conviction
However, there are consequences of pleading to reckless driving. These are
- If convicted, you must enroll and participate in a drug and alcohol awareness program as a condition for probation
- Wet reckless counts as a prior DUI conviction if the defendant is convicted of another DUI offense within 10 years following the previous conviction of wet reckless. This means that a subsequent DUI is punished as a second-time offense and not a first time DUI.
- The judge can also order the installation of an Ignition Lock Device (IID) in your vehicle for a period not less than 3 months and not more than 7 years based on if the defendant has other DUI priors.
Why You Should Plead to “Dry Reckless”
This plea bargain is common for DUI charges in California. It occurs when a defendant charged with Vehicle Code 23152(a) or Vehicle Code 23152(b) agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge of Vehicle Code 23103 VC. The advantages of pleading to a dry reckless charge include:
- Shorter probation period
- Reduced total fines charged
- No mandatory suspension of your driver’s license
Pleading to dry reckless is also a better deal compared to wet reckless because should you be arrested for DUI in the future; it is not considered as a previous offense.
Hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal attorney is going to help you with your defense, either you can get a dismissal or a reduced charge that either way will be helpful to you.
Does California Law Allow a Defendant to be Charged VC23572 and PC213a Simultaneously?
The answer is yes. Child endangerment law under PEN 273(a) in California is an additional crime that is charged as a misdemeanor and in some cases as a felony. It punishes defendants found to have willfully placed a minor in a position with the potential to cause them harm or a danger to their welfare. DUI that involves a child has been found to fall under this category by the California courts.
If arrested for driving with a child while intoxicated, the prosecutor can charge you with any of these:
- VEH 23572 VC driving under the influence with a sentencing enhancement
- Child endangerment as a separate crime or
- Both child endangerment and DUI and a minor in the vehicle.
However, even if you are charged with both charges, you will not be convicted on both but one. Under VEH 23572 VC, the courts are not allowed to impose an additional sentence for a person already sentenced with child endangerment. The court, however, is allowed to convict you on both child endangerment and DUI with no child in vehicle sentence enhancement.
At the same time, a prosecutor can proceed to charge you with child endangerment despite:
- The child’s age (anyone below 18 years counts)
- The DUI being prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor
PEN 273a PC minor endangerment are serious charges and are always not filed in regards to DUI with a minor passenger. The prosecutor weighs the evidence and uses the charge for extremely serious cases.
Should you get convicted of a misdemeanor in child endangerment, you will face up to 1 year in county jail. If convicted of a child endangerment felony, you can face up to 6 years in a California State Prison.
The Statute on Child Endangerment (PC 273a)
As earlier mentioned, California has DUI Child endangerment VC23572 as well as PEN Section 273a Child endangerment law.
Under PC273a, child endangerment is described as the act of putting a child in a position that could be harmful to their well-being or. Because of previous court rulings in California, DUI involving a child in the vehicle falls under the confines of PC273a.
As a result of these decisions, prosecutors have various options. They are at liberty to prosecute you for DUI as well as a VC23572 child endangerment if the minor was below 14 years of age. They can also charge you with PC273a, or opt to prosecute you simultaneously with both.
For the same offense, however, you are legally not allowed to be convicted for both crimes. However, this will not in any way exclude you from being convicted for child endangerment under PC 273a and DUI without a minor endangerment enhancement. With PEN 273a, no restriction is placed that it must be under 14 only; underage, in this case, can be anyone under 18.
However, prosecutors prefer to charge PC273a for more serious DUI violations involving a child in the vehicle and DUI child sentence enhancement for cases that are less serious.
For instance, if your BAC was right at 0.08%, have no prior DUI conviction, the child had their seat belt on; a minor endangerment enhancement charge is the most likely option. However, if not a first time offender, the minor’s seatbelt was not buckled up, and drove over the speed limit, a DUI, as well as an additional minor endangerment charge, is likely to be imposed on you.
Penalties and Punishments for PC273a Endangerment of Child
- If you get charged with a misdemeanor, you can get up to a maximum of a year to be served in county prison
- Should you be charged with a felony charge, you will be sentenced not exceeding six years served in state jail or prison.
The standard punishment in child endangerment if the child did not get injured in the drunk driving incident is:
- 6 months incarceration over and above the DUI jail term.
- Fines not exceeding $1,000
- Probation period not below 4 years
- A court order prohibiting you from coming near the child that you endangered.
- You will face randomized drugs and alcohol testing during your probation period
From this, it is evident that charges on child endangerment are more severe as compared to enhancement. With VC23572 enhancement, a DUI conviction will only allow you to serve a maximum of 6 months in jail.
For this reason, it is important to get a Los Angeles criminal attorney that is experienced and familiar with all DUI cases to give a solid defense on your behalf or have the skills to have your sentence reduced if a conviction is inevitable.
DUI – Custody Challenges
Assuming the child was not yours, you will not have any custody challenges. However, if the child you endangered was yours, then you are likely to face custody issues. The law on child endangerment does not provide for the child to be removed from your primary care. However, DUI with a minor is expected to be registered with the California Child Protective Services (CPS). If the agency sees it fit, it can intervene and have the child removed from your primary.
This calls for a need to do all that you can to win against a DUI involving a child below 14 or other additional child endangerment prosecutions for the purpose of keeping your family from separating on top of avoiding a jail term. However, even on conviction, it is imperative that you seek the services of an attorney to fight against charges that may be leveled against you by CPS and keep your child with you.
In some cases, CPS can decide to run their own investigation and stay informed on the charges of DUI with a child below 14 sentencing report. They may look into the child’s home background and surroundings to make sure that the child is well-taken care of. When this happens, cooperating with the investigators is important and prevents you from giving them a wrong impression of yourself, but avoid giving them too much information that they can use to paint you in a bad picture or initiate further action from them.
CPS investigators are tasked at establishing if your residence is safe, if you have a drug or alcohol addiction, try to interrogate those around you to see if you have a habit of driving after drinking, identify if you are violent towards your kids, and establish if you meet all the basic requirements for the child of feeding, clothing or education.
The investigators are likely to interrogate you by asking intrusive questions regarding the DUI or your personal life, watch that you do not allow yourself to get upset by their questioning. They are also likely going to ask your child questions privately; this is routine, do not allow yourself to be defensive in such a case.
Getting in touch with a Los Angeles DUI Defense attorney that has dealt with many DUI cases involving a passenger under 14 is your best way to avoid conviction or negotiating for a reduced sentence. The lawyer must be familiar with the process of DMV, the battle inside the courtroom as regards DUI charges and even one that understands how CPS investigations work.
When the state seizes the control of your daughter or son, it is extremely devastating for the parent. A qualified Los Angeles DUI lawyer understands what it means making him do all that they can to safeguard you from the possibility of losing your child by giving you the best defense for your DUI charge and should the conviction become inevitable, they work hard to ensure you get the best deal or least possible sentence.
It is also possible to find yourself maliciously charged with DUI involving a minor, and the simple reason that you were driving under the influence does not mean that you do not care or love your child. The qualified defense attorney will work to keep you from going to jail, safeguard your license from being suspended and hold your family together.
Reach out to a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
Should you find yourself or your loved ones facing these kinds of charges, do not hesitate to contact us, and we will immediately set up a meeting with you and start working on your defense. Our team at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is comprised of qualified, experienced, and compassionate lawyers that understand what you are going through with your loved ones, and offer the most informed advice and defense to help you get through the tough ordeal. Contact us today at 424-333-0493!