If a child was in the car when you allegedly drove drunk, you may face tougher DUI penalties or you may be charged separately with Child Endangerment.
DUI is seen as a safety issue in Los Angeles, whether there was an accident or not. That means that anytime someone innocent is put at risk, courts will react with particular severity. But perhaps no situation draws more scrutiny than when an alleged DUI driver had a child in the car with them.
Having a child in the car creates a special problem because as the driver (and the adult), you are responsible for their safety. Children generally will not speak up about an adult driving after having a few drinks, and if they’re very young they may not even understand what’s going on. This means they are defenseless, and the adult is seen as being highly negligent for putting them in danger—even though that is almost never the adult’s intention.
If you were arrested for DUI and had a child in the car, there are two ways you may be charged:
- DUI with a sentence enhancement. A sentence enhancement means more jail time, higher fines or other special penalties. The DUI is still a normal DUI charge, but because a minor was present, the consequences are worse. (You can only face this sentence enhancement if the child was younger than 14.)
- DUI plus a Child Endangerment charge. In some cases the prosecution will charge you with a separate crime, Child Endangerment. You could face this charge for having any minor in the vehicle, under 18 years of age. This carries its own criminal penalties, up to 6 months in jail.
No matter which charge you face, any DUI involving a minor will be reported to Child Protective Services. It is very rare for a child to be taken away over a DUI, but it does happen. Learn more about your rights as a parent here: My child was in the car when I was arrested for DUI in Los Angeles. Could they be taken away?
Have you been charged with DUI? We can connect you with an experienced Los Angeles DUI lawyer and get you a FREE consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call (310) 862-0199 and get your free consultation today.