Written by attorney Jonathan J. Griffith

California DUI and Child Endangerment

California DUI and Child Endangerment Have you been arrested in California for Driving Under the Influence? Was there a minor with you in the vehicle? The consequences for a DUI arrest can be serious enough, but having a minor in the car can dramatically increase the stakes. If you’ve been arrested for a California DUI and had a minor (under 18) in the vehicle you may be charged with a violation of California’s Child Endangerment Law, Penal Code 273(a). Child endangerment can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony. A conviction of a misdemeanor child endangerment can be punished by up to one year in county jail. A felony conviction of child endangerment can result in a punishment of up to six years in State Prison. A person can be convicted of Child Endangerment if they willfully permit a child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered. California courts have found defendants guilty of Child Endangerment even where the minor was never injured. Fortunately, most District Attorney's offices doesn’t pursue Child Endangerment charges under Penal Code 273(a) in every case. In some cases the District Attorney may charge a defendant with both DUI and Child Endangerment, but your criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you get a plea-bargain to a reduced charge. If there was a child under 14 in your vehicle, there is a DUI sentencing enhancement set forth in Vehicle Code 23572. The sentencing enhancement for having a minor under 14 in the car requires additional consecutive jail time of 48 hours for a first time DUI, 10 days for a second DUI, and 30 days for a third DUI. This sentencing enhancement is serious, but often has less serious consequences than a separate conviction for Child Endangerment. Your DUI lawyer can help explain your options. If you or a loved one have been arrested for DUI and had a minor in the car, it’s important to learn about your legal rights. Call a local DUI defense attorney to schedule a consultation.

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