Mistakes happen. And while driving under the influence in El Monte is a major mistake with serious consequences, it is one that is made by good people every day. That's why in many cases you are unlikely to face serious jail time upon a conviction of DUI under California law. But those potential consequences can dramatically increase if, at the time you were arrested for DUI, you had a child passenger in your vehicle.
The penalties for DUI with a child passenger are more severe than in a standard DUI case. A conviction could get you mandatory jail time that can't be avoided. What's more, such a conviction could have serious implications for your child custody rights. While this may seem daunting, an experienced California DUI defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate a better plea agreement or even win your case at trial. If you are facing a DUI charge in El Monte or L.A. County, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law today.
DUI with a Child Passenger in Los Angeles County
A DUI with a child passenger is treated the same as a traditional DUI under California law. According to California Vehicle Code 23152 (a), it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any alcoholic beverage to drive a vehicle.
To be convicted of a DUI, the prosecutor must show that you were driving a vehicle while you were under the influence of alcohol. The prosecutor can show that you were under the influence of alcohol by admitting evidence your blood alcohol concentration was .08 or above. Alternatively, a prosecutor can show the jury you were under the influence of alcohol by proving that:
as a result of drinking such alcoholic beverage, his or her physical or mental abilities are impaired to such a degree that he or she no longer has the ability to drive a vehicle with the caution characteristic of a sober person of ordinary prudence under the same conditions.
Elements of the Offense of DUI with a Child Passenger
The elements of the offense of DUI with a child passenger are straightforward. The prosecutor would only need to prove:
- That you operated a motor vehicle while under the influence, and
- There was a passenger in your vehicle under the age of 14.
DUI with a child passenger isn't an intent crime, so it doesn't make any difference if you didn't intend to harm the child or if you weren't aware your passenger was under 14. If you meet the requirements for a DUI conviction under California law while you had a passenger in your vehicle under 14, you will face the mandatory enhanced sentence set out in California Vehicle Code § 23572.
Penalties for DUI with a Child in the Car
The maximum penalty for a conviction of DUI with a child passenger is the same as the maximum penalty for a standard DUI:
|DUI 1st Offense||Up to 6 Months in Jail||$1,000 Max||6-10 Months|
|DUI 2nd Offense||Up to 1 Year||$1,000 Max||2 Years|
|DUI 3rd Offense||Up to 1 Year||$1,000 Max||3 Years|
|Felony DUI||16 Months to 16 Years||$5,000 Max||18-30 Months|
The major difference is that you unlike with some standard DUI convictions, there is a minimum amount of that sentence you will be required to serve. You will not be able to avoid it through probation or house arrest. The enhanced penalties include:
First DUI: 48 Hours
Second DUI: 10 days
Third DUI: 30 days
Fourth DUI: 90 days
Collateral Consequences for Child Custody
The enhanced sentences provided for by Section 23572 aren't the only additional consequences you may face upon conviction or a DUI with a child passenger. A DUI with a child passenger could trigger an investigation into you by Child Protective Service (CPS). If CPS choose to investigate, they will seek to determine if you have substance abuse problems or otherwise put the children in your home at risk with your drinking. In the most serious cases, CPS could remove your children from your custody.
Potential Legal Defense Strategies
A DUI with child passengers in a case will have the same potential legal defenses as any DUI case, with one exception: the age of the child. Not all minors will trigger the enhancement contained in Section 23572, and it's possible you were charged incorrectly at the time.
The Child was 14 Years or Older
For the automatic enhancement to kick in, you must be convicted of operating a vehicle under the influence with a minor child aged less than 14. That means you will not face the automatic enhancement if the child in your vehicle is 14 or more.
Challenges to the Traffic Stop
When you are driving, the police can't simply pull you over any time they like. They need to have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime such as a traffic violation before they can stop you. If you are stopped or searched illegally, your DUI defense attorney may be able to have the court exclude any evidence collected through the illegal stop.
Challenges to the Chemical Test
Another common type of DUI defense includes challenges to any blood or breath tests you may have submitted to. For chemical test results to be accurate, they must comply with a series of guidelines. That includes the person taking the sample having proper training and the sample collection taking the steps needed to avoid cross-contamination. Any chemical test result that did not comply with the guidelines may not admissible at your trial.
El Monte's Best DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with DUI with a child passenger in El Monte, let William S. Kroger Attorney at Law help you through this difficult process. William S. Kroger understands what is at stake and gives each of his clients his personal attention. Throughout the length of his practice, William S. Kroger has focused on defending the constitutional rights of those accused of crimes. If you would like to discuss the merits of your case with L.A. County's best DUI defense attorney, contact William S. Kroger Attorney at Law today to set up your free consultation.