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What Happens if My Child Is in the Car During a DUI Stop?

 Posted on June 11,2019 in DUI

Santa Cruz, CA DUI attorney child endangerment

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal and can result in serious consequences. However, having a passenger in the car under the age of 14 will increase the severity of the punishment. The laws of the state of California are meant to keep everyone safe, and violating these laws by committing DUI with a child in the car can be considered child endangerment.

California Laws and Child Endangerment

According to California Vehicle Code 25372, a person who drives while under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a child under 14 years old in the car is subject to increased punishment. While a first-time DUI is usually considered a misdemeanor, this is considered a very serious misdemeanor – not only in court, but with Child Protective Services. Child Protective Services may be called to the scene of arrest, and they have the ability to take your child/children into their protective custody as you go off into police custody. There is follow up with CPS to make sure the children are in an acceptable home, and they will likely notify you that they are seeking to place you on a list of child abusers (Child Abuse Central Index). They will also inform you of your right to fight that designation.

When a person who drives while intoxicated has a child as a passenger, their ultimate intentions will typically not play a role in the sentence they receive if convicted of DUI. The driver may not be aware of their intoxication, and they may not have any intention of harming the child, but the law is severe when it comes to driving while intoxicated with a child in the car. In addition, a person’s past driving record, no matter how exemplary, will typically not be considered as particularly persuasive when it comes to the endangerment of a child.

 In addition to DUI charges, a person may face charges of child endangerment under California Penal Code 273a. Again, this can lead to being labeled a child abuser. Moreover, a conviction for 273a can result in four years of formal probation, a year of weekly counseling directed at better parenting skills as well as drinking and driving, fines, and potential incarceration. This counseling is usually in addition to a drinking driver class.

A person can only be convicted under Vehicle Code 25372 if it can be demonstrated that they were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. If you have been arrested for DUI while a child was in the vehicle, you should speak to an attorney to determine your options for defending against these charges.

Contact a Santa Cruz DUI Attorney

A DUI conviction can alter your personal and professional life, and charges will be even more serious if a child was involved. If you are facing DUI charges, our Santa Cruz, CA DUI defense lawyer can help you understand your options and work with you to help you minimize the consequences you may face. Call our office at 831-426-5800 for a free consultation.


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