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How Child Passengers Affect a DUI Case

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How Child Passengers Affect a DUI CaseDriving under the influence by itself has potentially serious penalties if you are convicted. Having a child with you in your vehicle at the time of your alleged DUI incident will aggravate the charge and the penalty. You are liable for the safety of any passengers, but prosecutors may charge you with child endangerment if they believe that you put a child at risk by driving impaired. Because it was likely your child in the vehicle, you have both your freedom and your parental rights at stake during your case.

DUI with Child

California law defines a child in a DUI case as someone who is younger than 14. The child passenger did not need to be in danger for prosecutors to charge you with DUI with a child. If the court rules that you were guilty of DUI, the child’s presence in the vehicle is enough to prove the aggravated DUI charge. A DUI with a child conviction includes mandatory jail time. How long you must stay in jail depends on whether you have any previous DUI convictions on your record. You would be sentenced to:

  • 48 hours in jail if it is your first DUI;
  • 10 days in jail if it is your second DUI in 10 years;
  • 30 days in jail if it is your third DUI in 10 years; and
  • 90 days in jail if it is your fourth DUI in 10 years.

Two days in jail is less than the maximum jail sentence you can receive for a first-time DUI conviction without any aggravating factors. However, first-time DUI offenders can receive probation instead of jail time, while DUI with a child guarantees you time in jail.

Child Endangerment

Prosecutors could bring a separate child endangerment charge against you, claiming that you endangered the child passenger during your alleged DUI incident. The court cannot convict you of both child endangerment and DUI with a child. Unlike the DUI charge, prosecutors must prove that you endangered the child by:

  • Putting the child at risk of great harm;
  • Causing the child physical pain or mental suffering; and
  • Acting in a criminally negligent manner.

A misdemeanor child endangerment conviction can result in as long as one year in jail, while a felony conviction can mean a maximum six-year jail sentence. The difference between a misdemeanor and felony child endangerment charge is whether the child was likely to suffer harm. The prosecution will fall back on the DUI with a child charge if it cannot prove child endangerment.

Your Defense

You can defeat a DUI with a child charge by contesting the DUI allegation. A San Francisco DUI defense attorney at Burglin Law Offices, P.C., can find weaknesses in a DUI case. Schedule a free consultation by calling 415-729-7300.



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