Los Angeles DUI with Child in the Vehicle
There are several aggravating factors that can increase the penalties assessed on a Los Angeles DUI conviction. One of these penalty enhancements would apply when the DUI offense occurred with a minor child in the vehicle in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC . This penalty enhancement can add significant jail time on top of whatever is imposed for the underlying DUI offense. This enhancement also carries collateral consequences and may even prompt separate criminal charges for child endangerment under California Penal Code Section 273(a) PC .
After a defendant is convicted of a DUI offense, the prosecutor would have to additionally prove the following elements of the California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC penalty enhancement:
- The defendant has already been convicted of a Los Angeles driving under the influence offense under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 VC.
- At the time the DUI offense occurred, a minor child under the age of 14 was in the vehicle.
It is important to remember that the penalty enhancement for having a child in the vehicle would only be applicable for DUI charges under California Vehicle Code Section 23152 VC. If the defendant is convicted of a reduced DUI charge such as wet reckless under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC or exhibition of speed in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23109(c) VC , the penalty enhancement would not apply.
The California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC enhancement adds mandatory jail time to any DUI conviction. The amount of time imposed depends on whether the defendant had prior DUI convictions. The following punishments would be imposed on top of whatever sentence was imposed on the underlying DUI conviction:
- 48 hours in jail for the defendant’s first DUI conviction.
- Ten extra days in custody when the defendant had a prior DUI conviction within the previous ten years.
- 30 extra days in custody when the defendant had two prior DUI convictions within the previous ten years.
- 90 extra days in jail when the defendant had three or more prior DUI convictions within the previous ten years and the current DUI was treated as a misdemeanor. When a DUI defendant is convicted of his or her fourth offense within ten years, a prosecutor could charge the DUI as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC penalty enhancement would not apply to felony DUI convictions.
In addition to the penalty enhancement for having a minor child in the vehicle at the time of a Los Angeles DUI offense, the defendant could also be charged separately with the crime of child endangerment in violation of California Penal Code Section 273(a) PC . While the DUI penalty enhancement under California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC only applies when the minor in the vehicle is under the age of 14, child endangerment criminal charges could apply as long as the minor is under 18.
Child endangerment is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on factors such as the defendant’s criminal history and the underlying facts of the case. If charged as a felony the defendant can be sentenced to serve up to four years in prison. If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty would be six months in county jail. Child endangerment is more serious than the California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC penalty enhancement, and usually will only be charged when the defendant’s conduct is particularly egregious. If the defendant did not exhibit bad driving conduct or had a blood alcohol content that was not excessively high, a prosecutor may be satisfied with the DUI penalty enhancement. However, if the defendant’s driving was reckless or if his BAC was extremely high, child endangerment may be charged.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Los Angeles and there is an additional penalty enhancement allegation involving a child in the vehicle, it is important that you speak with a Los Angeles DUI Attorney immediately. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Lawyer Michael Kraut understands how best to defend parents or others charged with this DUI enhancement.
For more information about Los Angeles DUI with a child in the vehicle, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.