DUI and Child Endangerment
Of child fatalities resulting from automobile collisions, 25% are related to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). DUI is a criminal offense, and so is child endangerment. In the case of a 13-year-old minor riding with someone who is intoxicated, even absent dangerous driving, a DUI may automatically create child endangerment.
Child endangerment is proscribed at California Penal Code section 273a. It occurs where a person willfully places a child in a situation where he or she is likely to suffer great bodily harm or death. The punishment is imprisonment from less than 1 year (misdemeanor) up to 6 years (felony) and a fine of up to $6,000. Many county prosecutors will try for the separate child endangerment charge under section 273a. Factors a jury would consider include: whether there was a collision, the recklessness of driving, the ages of the children, and the BAC of the driver.
The law considers the automobile an inherently dangerous device. Not just anyone has the right to drive a car – that right is granted by the state after the driver has proven her skill and knowledge in driving. A licensed driver must use great care and prudence in making decisions about when or when not to drive; when alcohol and minor passengers are involved, the law expects the driver to proceed with utmost caution. The law has traditionally protected those who cannot protect themselves, such as children. Also, the law does not generally allow drunkenness to negate a “willful” state of mind when they placed a child into a car with a DUI candidate. Thus, the compounded penalties for DUI coupled with child endangerment can be stiff.
In the event that the DUI driver is not convicted for child endangerment under section 273a, California Vehicle Code section 23572 imposes additional jail time (beyond standard DUI sentences) on DUI convicts carrying a single passenger under 14: 48 additional hours for the 1st offense (i.e., 1st child or 1st arrest), 10 days for the 2nd (i.e., 2nd child or 2nd arrest), 30 days for the 3rd, and 90 days for the 4th. It takes a skilled DUI lawyer to defend a DUI charge with a passenger under 14.
RLG attorneys are experienced in all aspects of DUI law. If you have been arrested for DUI, a criminal defense attorney at RLG will fight to protect your rights. We serve the entire Bay Area.
For outstanding legal representation, please contact RLG for a free consultation: (415) 877-4486
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