The penalties for a DUI in California depend heavily on the circumstances around the arrest. Your history with drunk driving over the past 10 years can play a large role, but so can other aggravating factors. Some of these factors, considered sentence
Under California Vehicle Code (VC) Section 23572, you will receive additional penalties for any DUI offense if you have a minor passenger in your vehicle at the time you’re stopped. If you’ve been charged with a DUI offense involving a minor, setting up an appointment with a knowledgeable DUI attorney is a smart first step. You can call us to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced DUI lawyers.
How a DUI with a Minor Passenger is Charged Under VC 23572
VC 23572 is a sentence enhancement for individuals charged with a DUI while a person under the age of 15 is a passenger. It does not an offense that can be charged separately from the DUI. If the DUI charge is dropped, the sentence enhancement for violating VC 23572 is dropped is well.
Under the terms of VC 23572, you will have an additional jail sentence added on to any time you would serve as a result of your DUI conviction. Judges have the discretion to waive jail time for a normal DUI conviction, but they do not if you are found guilty of a DUI with a minor passenger. This means jail time is mandatory once you’ve been convicted under this section of the vehicle code.
The length of jail time you are mandated to serve under VC 23572 depends on your DUI history. It breaks down as follows:
- 2 days of additional jail time on a first offense
- 10 days of additional jail time on a second offense
- 30 days of additional jail time on a third offense
- 90 days of additional jail time if your fourth offense is handled as a misdemeanor
The court does not calculate this based on previous convictions under VC 23572. Even if you’ve never been convicted of a DUI with a minor passenger before now, a second, third, or fourth misdemeanor DUI will come with sentence enhancements listed above.
DUI with a Minor Passenger or Child Endangerment
The final portion of VC 23572 notes that you may not be charged with both the sentence enhancement and Penal Code (PC) 273(a). PC 273(a) describes the circumstances that constitute child endangerment, as well as the penalties that can be issued upon conviction. Depending on whether PC 273(a) is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, you can face a maximum of one year in county jail or up to six years in state prison.
While PC 273(a) speaks to child endangerment generally, it does apply to instances where a minor was in a vehicle with a drunk driver. The courts have determined that drunk driving constitutes sufficient neglect to trigger the use of PC 273(a)
While you cannot be convicted of violating both VC 23572 and PC 273(a), that doesn’t mean that you cannot face both charges simultaneously. At the prosecutor’s discretion, you may be charged under either one or both these statutes. If the prosecutor opts to charge you under both statutes, the jury will decide which applies.
Defending Against a DUI with a Minor Passenger Charge
As noted above, you will never be charged with violating VC 23572 on its own. Therefore, any defense will likely focus on the facts underlying the general DUI charge brought against you. If the charges are dropped for the DUI, the sentence enhancement is dropped as well. Likewise, if you can plead to a lesser offense, such as a “wet” reckless endangerment charge, VC 23572 no longer applies to you.
A skilled DUI attorney can examine the facts of your case to determine any weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case. Breath tests can frequently give results that are too high, generally due to poor maintenance of the machines or because of outside factors like your diet. In some cases, police did not have probable cause to initiate the stop in the first place. In either of these cases, you may be in a stronger position to plea to a lesser offense or to even have the charges dropped entirely.
If you’d like to have an attorney with years of experience handling DUI cases just like yours, contact us using the form on this site. One of our representatives can help you schedule your initial consultation with one of our skilled lawyers who can evaluate your case at no cost to you.
A strong defense against a DUI with a minor passenger charge can take time to build, so reach out now!