Recently on our DUI forum a user asked, “I was arrested last night for DUI in California. I also had my child in the car. I am curious about whether I can be charged with DUI child endangerment and whether or not I will have to spend some time in jail?”
Although the fines and penalties you will face for a DUI arrest with a child in the car are serious in every state, there are specific fines and penalties you will face in California under California DUI laws.
Specifically, if you are arrested for DUI in California and you have a child in the car with you who is under the age of fourteen you can be charged not only with driving under the influence (DUI), you can also be charged with misdemeanor child endangerment.
Penalties for misdemeanor child endangerment
Penalties for child endangerment are specified under the California Vehicle Code 23572. You should talk to a DUI lawyer immediately for more information about your charges, but in general, you may not only have to serve 6 months in jail for the DUI charge, the state may also have the option to enhance your DUI charges, which could mean an additional 48 hours in jail. They could also charge you with a separate charge of child endangerment.
If the state does decide to charge you with misdemeanor child endangerment, then you could serve up to one year in jail if convicted. Felony child endangerment charges, however, are much more serious and could result in up to six years in a state prison.
Evidence for DUI and child endangerment
Now, you asked about the charges the state is likely to seek against you. Without more information about your case it’s impossible to say for sure. If the prosecution does seek charges they will need evidence that you were intoxicated (i.e. chemical test results, field sobriety test results, evidence from witnesses and the police officer, etc.) and evidence that there was a child under the age of 14 in your car.
Multiple DUI convictions and child endangerment
Now, you did not mention whether or not this was your first DUI, but it’s also important to note that if you have previously been convicted for DUI and you are convicted of a third or fourth DUI that you could be sentenced to even more time in jail if the prosecution charged you with the sentencing enhancement.
Given the seriousness of the crimes in which you might be charged, it’s important to immediately contact a DUI lawyer. DUI convictions generally cannot be expunged and may interfere with your life in a variety of ways.
For example, some claimants have found that a DUI conviction for child endangerment could impact child custodial arrangements, especially if their ex-spouse is able to prove that the children are not safe in their care.
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