What Happens When One or More Minor Children are Present in the Car When Arrested for DUI?
The Possible Consequences
Under California Vehicle Code 23572, DUI penalties are enhanced to varying degrees by the presence of one or more minors in the vehicle. In this case, a “minor” is any child 14 years old or younger. The additional penalty added onto a DUI charge under this section depends upon prior record of the driver. However, the MINIMUM additional penalty is two days in county jail. From there, the penalties become more severe.
The additional penalty sounds fairly straightforward, but things can get substantially more complicated if not handled correctly. This is because the California Penal Code also deals with the presence of minor children in a vehicle which was being driven under the influence. California Penal Code Section 273(a) provides that it is a crime to willfully endanger a child – which could be filed as a felony or misdemeanor – and has very serious consequences. California considers willful endangerment of a child to include driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle. Conviction under this section could have very serious consequences such as probation, jail time or significant fines – in addition to the consequences which follow conviction under a felony criminal charge, which can include loss of employment.
How the “enhancement” of a DUI works with the felony child endangerment charge
When a DUI is charged which alleges the presence of a minor child in the vehicle, the complaint may contain charges under the DUI provision with the enhancement attached, in ADDITION to a charge of child endangerment. However, in the end punishment can only be doled out under either the vehicle code DUI enhancement, or the child endangerment statute, but not both – this is because both sections are punishment for child endangerment, essentially the same act, and it is established law that the same act is generally not punishable as multiple crimes in this context. Therefore, if you are convicted of a DUI with the minor passenger enhancement, you will not be subsequently convicted under the potentially more serious child endangerment section, 273(a) of the penal code.
What this comes down to is prosecutorial discretion. Essentially, the prosecutor has two choices when charging your DUI when a minor passenger is involved. The prosecutor can seek either to punish you with the enhancement provision of California’s DUI law or pursue a more serious felony charge of child endangerment under the penal code. While it is true that in California, under the Swann-Gilbert doctrine a crime should be charged under the most specifically relevant law to the incident, that does not force a prosecutor to use the DUI enhancement instead of the California Penal Code Section 273(a) charge. This is because the DUI enhancement references the child endangerment charge under the penal code, thus making that doctrine inapplicable.
What can be done to avoid prosecution for felony child endangerment in this situation?
An experienced attorney can help to avoid charge or conviction under the felony child endangerment statute – either through negotiation or argument in trial. Hiring an experienced attorney right away to handle any DUI charge is the best way to make sure your chances of avoiding felony conviction are as good as possible.
Contact The Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein, PC.
The Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein, PC., have been representing people charged with DUI for decades. We have represented thousands of individuals before the DMV and in court since 1987. We are former Los Angeles deputy district attorneys and pride ourselves as experienced and compassionate attorneys. We fight for our clients to obtain the best possible result. We walk together with my clients throughout every aspect of their case including the DMV and court. A more thorough explanation and a full evaluation of your case is available by calling or visiting the firm for a free consultation.
Have you or someone you know been charged with DUI or any other crime? Contact The Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein, PC., Los Angeles and Orange County criminal defense lawyers today at 424-552-3901 for a free case review.
Remember, your call or your visit to our office for a consultation is always free.
- Violent Crimes
- Criminal Threats
- Elder Abuse
- Second-Degree Murder In California: Different Than Zimmerman?
- Torrance Criminal Lawyers – Involuntary Manslaughter Defenses
- Murder Defenses In California
- Murder | Degrees
- What Can Be Learned About Your Defense
- Tips For Finding The Right Arson Lawyer
- Arson FAQs
- How To Fight Felony Arson Charges
- Child Endangerment
- Child Abuse & Child Endangerment | Resources
- Assault And Battery
- Assault & Battery Explanation
- California Assault And Battery Crimes
- Charged With Assault or Battery in Torrance, CA? What You Should Do if You Are Accused
- Weapons Charges
- Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer: Carrying A Concealed Weapon
- Other California Weapons Charges
- Concealed Weapons
- Theft Related Offenses
- Auto Theft Defenses
- Petty Theft And Shoplifting
- Grand Theft vs Petty Theft
- Identity Theft
- California Identity Theft Law: Penalties And Defenses Available
- Facing Identity Theft Charges?
- White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney
- Identity Theft | Credit Card Theft
- Embezzlement Charges
- Charged With Embezzlement?
- Embezzlement | Burden of Proof
- Sex Crimes
- Drug Offenses
- How To Avoid A Drug Crime Conviction
- Alternative Sentences For Drug Crimes
- Possession Of Drugs For Personal Use
- Possession Of Marijuana Laws
- Possession Of Marijuana For Sale
- Drug Possession For Sale
- Possession Of Methamphetamine For Sale
- Possession Of Heroin For Sale
- Marijuana Possession
- Marijuana Possession For Sale
- Possession Of Cocaine For Sale
- Mental Health Diversion
- Immigration Relief
- Military Diversion
- Veteran’s Court
- Sealing & Destruction Arrest Records
- DUI Defense
- Attacking The Evidence In A DUI Case
- DUI DMV Hearing
- DUI Reductions Overview
- DUI FAQs
- DUI Court Case
- DUI Reduction: Dry Reckless
- DUI Reduction: Wet Reckless
- DUI Reduction: Exhibition Of Speed
- DUI Under 21
- The No Driving Defense
- 10 Common DUI Questions
- Real DUI Success Stories
- Social Media Could Hurt Your Los Angeles DUI Case
- The ‘Rising Blood Alcohol’ Defense
- What Happens When One or More Minor Children are Present in the Car When Arrested for DUI?
- You May Not Have Been Drunk When You Were Arrested For DUI In L.A.
- DUI-Related Reductions
- DUI-Related Enhancements
- Juvenile Defense
- Domestic Violence
- General Felonies And Misdemeanors
- Disturbing The Peace
- Accessory After The Fact
- Driving With A Suspended License
- Caught Driving With A Suspended License?
- Vehicular Manslaughter
- Texting And Driving – Distracted Driving Can Lead To Vehicular Manslaughter
- Vehicular Manslaughter | Resources
- Public Intoxication
- Can I Get My Public Intoxication Charge Dismissed?
- Tagging, Graffiti Can Lead To Stiff Penalties In Los Angeles
- Torrance Vandalism Lawyers Explain The Law & Your Defense
- California Vandalism Graffiti Law Penal Code 594
- Other Practice Areas
- The Criminal Court Process