In California, facing a DUI (driving under the influence) charge is a serious offense. When you jeopardize your life and the lives of other road users, the law is tough regarding DUI offenses. While a DUI conviction always carries a heavy sentence, it will be worse if you have a passenger under the age of 14.
Having a child under 14 when you are charged with DUI increases your punishment. If you are stopped by the police for a DUI offense while driving with a passenger under the age of 14, the law guarantees that you will face a harsher sentence.
Children should be constantly guarded while driving; you must take care to prevent harm from coming to them. Although the legislation attempts to deter drivers from jeopardizing the lives of minors, a DUI conviction with a passenger under 14 will typically result in a harsh penalty.
The law defines a DUI with a passenger under the age of 14 as "child endangerment." The additional penalties will enhance your sentence, even if this is your first DUI offense. Additionally, if you have a history of being convicted of additional DUI offenses, your punishment will be more severe.
If you have legal custody of a child or are charged with DUI in Pasadena while carrying a passenger under 14, you must hire a skilled DUI attorney to assist with your case. Our legal team at Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm will work with you to develop a defense plan against the accusations. We will put much effort into ensuring the court dismisses or reduces your DUI charges.
What Is DUI With a Passenger Under 14?
The purpose of California's VC 23572 is to safeguard children from harm. You understand that using drugs or alcohol will make it more difficult for you to operate or drive a motor vehicle safely. The child's life is in danger when they are your passenger while you are driving under the influence. As a result, the law imposes severe penalties on anyone who endangers children's lives to discourage drinking and driving.
The law sees your arrest for a DUI crime when you are with a child as an aggravating circumstance that will lengthen your sentence.
The prosecution may bring separate charges for DUI with a passenger under 14 and child endangerment under Penal Code 273(a), both with stiff penalties. If you are found guilty by the court on both charges, you must serve both sentences consecutively.
If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and have a passenger under the age of 14, you will be charged with child endangerment. The court may add further punishment to your sentence depending on the specifics of your case.
A child endangerment charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for the prosecution to proceed with holding a trial. Hence, the prosecution must establish the following elements:
- You knowingly permitted a child in your care to be in a dangerous condition.
- You knowingly subjected a kid in your care to unreasonable physical or mental harm.
- You intentionally and deliberately hurt a child in your care.
When you permit a child to be in a dangerous position while under your care, the first element of a DUI charge, including a passenger under 14, fits the legal criteria. A charge of endangering a child need not result in harm to the child in question for it to be heard in court.
However, most prosecutors will file a VC 23572 charge for DUI with a passenger under 14, and they will only add child endangerment if you are facing a serious DUI offense charge. For instance, if you have a history of DUI offenses involving minors under 14.
A DUI conviction in California would result in additional jail time if the accused drove under the influence while a passenger was under 14. This means that you will receive a harsher sentence if you had a passenger under the age of 14 in the vehicle you were driving during your DUI arrest.
When aggravating circumstances surround your DUI charge, California Vehicle Code 23572 mandates a statutory sentence augmentation. Driving while intoxicated with a passenger who is under the age of 14 is one of these aggravating factors. As per the legislation, your punishment will be enhanced if you are found guilty of a misdemeanor DUI with a passenger under 14. The following factors will not affect your DUI with a passenger under 14 charges;
- If you had the intention of harming the minor or not.
- Your level of BAC (blood alcohol content).
- Your driving pattern.
Penalties For a Violation of California VC 23572
If there are aggravating circumstances, such as having a child passenger under 14 at the time of your arrest, you will face further sentencing if you are charged with DUI. You will also receive additional jail time along with a regular DUI conviction. According to the law, prior DUI offenses must have happened within the last 10 years of the current DUI offense.
First-time DUI Offense
Along with being found guilty of the initial DUI violation, you also face an extra 48 hours in county jail.
You should note that in most cases, penalties for a first-time DUI offense usually include the following:
- Summary probation ( usually ranges from 3 and can go up to 5 years).
- Spend roughly three (3) months attending DUI school.
- Six months in prison.
- Fines and penalty assessments range from $1,500 to $2,000.
- Ignition interlock device installation and a license suspension of no more than six (6) months.
Second-time DUI Offense
Along with the underlying DUI offense, you must serve an additional ten days in jail. Your conviction for a second DUI offense will often be:
- 3 to 5 years of summary probation.
- Attend DUI training (up to 3 months).
- Penalty assessments and penalties of up to $2,000.
- Incarceration in a county jail for a year.
- Driving privileges revoked.
- Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Installation.
Third-time DUI offense
In addition to the sentence for the initial DUI crime, you will also be sentenced to an extra 30 days in county jail for a third offense. In most situations, a third DUI offense carries the following penalties:
- 3–5 years of conditional release.
- Incarceration in a county jail for up to a year.
- Penalty assessments and fines of up to $3,000.
- Two-year IID installation.
- Attend meetings for Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.
- Participate in victim panels organized by MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving).
- Pay restitution to victims.
In California, a fourth DUI is a wobbler offense, which means the prosecution may charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony. In addition to your three years in prison, you will also serve an additional 90 days if this is your fourth misdemeanor offense. But VC 23572 will not apply if you are guilty of a fourth felony.
The prosecution may elect to pursue a misdemeanor or felony offense concerning allegations of child endangerment under the statute. You risk a year in jail for a minor crime. A felony conviction for endangering a child, however, carries a six-year prison sentence. Remember that the child endangerment penalty for your child and the DUI with a minor under 14 sentences will be served concurrently.
Legal Defenses Against DUI With A Passenger Under 14
Due to the seriousness of these accusations, you will want the assistance of a skilled DUI attorney and defense tactics that will persuade the court to drop or lessen your charges.
You Did Not Receive A DUI Conviction
You are aware that a DUI with a minor under 14 constitutes a sentence enhancement, and as a result, even if you do not currently have a DUI sentence, you may still acquire one. As a result, if your defense team is successful in disputing your DUI accusation, you need to be qualified for sentence augmentation.
The Child Was Not Under 14
If you drove under the influence and had a passenger under 14 with you when the police stopped you, you would receive a DUI sentence enhancement. Your legal team can contend that at the time of your arrest, your passenger was an adult and not a child under 14.
The Arresting Officer Had No Probable Cause To Stop You
Only when they have solid evidence that you have broken the law can law enforcement officials stop you. Hence, by demonstrating that the arresting officer lacked justification for stopping you, your defense team can refute the DUI charge against you.
The police cannot indiscriminately stop and detain anybody, according to the law. Also, you had to have behaved in a way that suggested you were intoxicated or impaired for the police to stop you. If the arresting officer thoroughly investigates and discovers no evidence of intoxication, they should release you without making an arrest.
The Positive Reading on Your Blood Alcohol Content Was False
Your BAC could be tested by the police officer making the arrest, which could result in a false positive result. If this applies to you, you can use this defense tactic to have the case thrown out of court. A BAC test may produce inaccurate results for several reasons. You are aware that some of the food you may have eaten just before driving may have contained alcohol, which could cause your blood alcohol content to be positive. Included in some of these foods are:
- Cinnamon rolls,
- Fermented fruits,
Inaccurate BAC Reading
If you are confident that the breathalyzer findings need to be more exact, you can use this defense. The arresting officer will use a breathalyzer to check your blood alcohol content. If these devices malfunction or are incorrectly calibrated, they may occasionally produce false readings.
When your defense team has evidence that the breathalyzer was inaccurate or miscalibrated, they might look into it and use it to fight your charges.
An Illegal Arrest
If the arresting officer didn't follow the rules set forth by the law when making the arrest, you could raise this argument. For instance, if you are arrested and your Miranda rights are not read to you. The prosecutor will drop the accusations against you if you can defend this.
Inaccurate Field Sobriety Test
When you are detained for a DUI violation, the officer may administer field sobriety tests. There is no precise way to determine the degree of intoxication when it comes to impairment caused by either alcohol or drugs. When given actual data, most tests will be accurate to within 65% to 75%, but only if the police accurately record the results.
The prosecutor's use of a field sobriety test to suggest that you are intoxicated can be contested by your defense team. While arresting you for drunk driving, the officer typically places a lot of weight on your outward appearance.
The arresting officer may conduct or look for certain physical characteristics or field sobriety tests, which include:
- Flushed face.
- Unsteady gait.
- Watery eyes.
- Slurred speech.
- Red eyes.
- Smelling like alcohol on your breath.
Your defense team may contest the charge by claiming that you failed the field sobriety test or that your appearance did not indicate that you were intoxicated but rather that it was because of:
- Irritated eyes.
The field sobriety test may also be shown to be invalid due to
- Inadequate lighting,
- Unfavorable weather,
- Police coercion,
- Shoes with high heels,
- Uneven floors.
To prevent the prosecution from using the field sobriety test as evidence against you, your defense team will challenge it. By doing this, they will give the court information that will allow it to reject the results of your field sobriety test.
The Arresting Officer Did Not Follow The Law by Observing You Before Carrying Out The Breath Test
The arresting officer must wait 15 minutes to administer the breathalyzer, per the law.
You'll see that most arresting officers rarely abide by this regulation. Instead, the majority of police officers will do the breath test right away, setting up their testing tools without waiting for 15 minutes to observe you.
When you admit that the arresting officer did not observe you for 15 minutes as required by law, the investigation will be questioned.
The DUI Checkpoint Did Not Comply With Legal Requirements
California has strict regulations regarding DUI checkpoints. These conditions are
- The traffic police supervisory officer should decide the location, timing, and operational details of the DUI checkpoint.
- Place the checkpoint in a suitable location.
- Have a mechanism for stopping cars that are impartial.
- Promote the DUI checkpoint in advance.
- Make sure to take safety precautions.
- The police should detain drivers very briefly.
- Put up signs alerting drivers that a DUI checkpoint is coming.
Your defense team could contest your arrest and request that the court drop or downgrade your charges if the DUI checkpoint where the police detained you did not meet these conditions.
Your DUI defense lawyer may try to negotiate a plea deal if the dismissal of your case is not possible. To avoid being found guilty and receiving a sentence enhancement under VC 23572, your attorney will negotiate and convince you to plead guilty to a lesser offense.
Your defense team will bargain with the prosecution to avoid taking your case to trial when you accept a plea deal. If you admit to a lesser offense, your conviction will result in a lighter sentence. A less severe sentence would be
- Minimal to no time behind bars.
- reduced fines.
- fewer stigmas.
- You are not required to complete DUI education, and your driver's license will not be automatically suspended.
The prosecution might propose the following charges to you as part of a plea deal:
- Wet reckless.
- Dry reckless.
- Speed exhibition.
Your defense attorney may seek to reduce your charge if they recognize the prosecutor has a weak case.
- Public drunkenness.
- Consuming alcohol while driving.
- Bypassing a traffic light.
California VC 23572 will not apply if the prosecution agrees to drop your dry or wet careless charge.
Additional Penalties For Reckless Driving and Excessive Speeding-VC 23582
When there are aggravating circumstances surrounding your DUI case, the court may, on occasion, impose a sentence augmentation when:
- You'll be subject to a sentence augmentation under VC 23582.
- You are intoxicated and drive erratically at speeds exceeding 20 mph.
- If you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a BAC of 0.08 and injuries under California Vehicle Code 23153,
In addition to your DUI conviction, the enhanced sentence enhancement for this offense is an extra 60 days in jail.
Additional Penalties For a DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or Higher
You will be charged under California Vehicle Code 23152 if the government accuses you of:
- Operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
- California Vehicle Code 23152 states that driving while intoxicated with a BAC of 0.08 or above is illegal.
It won't take long for the prosecution to establish that you violated VC 23152(b), as the law does not need them to prove you were intoxicated. The prosecution cannot make certain accusations:
- If you don't take the test,
- If you were using drugs and operating a vehicle.
- when your BAC wasn't 0.08.
In addition to the punishments for the primary DUI charge, a conviction for DUI with a BAC of 0.08 or higher carries the following additional sentences:
- The DMV will suspend your driving license for a more extended period.
- Face longer imprisonment.
- You will have to install IID in your vehicle.
- Attend DUI training.
Enhanced DUI Sentencing For Test Refusal -VC 23578
You will violate VC 23578 when you drive under the influence of alcohol and refuse to take a urine or breath test. A conviction for this charge will result in the following:
- The DMV will suspend your driving license for extended periods.
- Face longer imprisonment.
- You will have to install IID in your vehicle.
- Attend DUI training.
Wet Reckless-VC 23103.5
If your defense team successfully reduces the DUI charges against you, the prosecution may file a wet reckless lawsuit against you.
A "wet reckless charge" usually refers to the use of alcohol while driving. Although this charge does not fulfill the criteria for driving while intoxicated, the prosecution may prosecute you for reckless driving when alcohol has a substantial role.
Being charged with wet recklessness is significantly preferable to be charged with DUI because your conviction won't carry the stigma attached to charges of driving while intoxicated. Have your defense team fight hard to obtain a wet reckless charge brought against you if your line of employment forbids you from having a DUI conviction on your record.
Your punishment for wet recklessness will be minimal compared to a DUI conviction. The following sentence awaits you:
- Fewer or no prison terms and more minor fines.
- The court will not suspend a driver's license ( however, the DMV could still suspend your license unless your attorney successfully challenges this at the administrative hearing).
If you have a wet reckless conviction on your record and then face a DUI charge, your wet reckless conviction will enhance your current DUI charge, giving you an enhanced sentence. With this enhancement, your current charge will read as a second-time DUI offense.
Dry Reckless-VC 23103
When the prosecution brings a case against you for reckless driving without the use of alcohol as a factor, you will be charged with "dry recklessness." It will be favorable if your defense team can reduce your DUI charge to dry recklessness because the prosecution cannot use the charge as a sentence enhancement.
The DMV is unlikely to suspend your license, and your insurance rates won't increase due to a dry, careless citation.
Public Drunkenness or Exhibition of Speed Charges
In some cases, your defense may be able to have your DUI charge reduced to a violation of VC 23109(c) for an exhibition of speed or to public intoxication under Penal Code 647(f). Hence, hiring a skilled DUI defense lawyer is essential while facing DUI accusations.
Contact An Experienced Pasadena DUI Attorney Near Me
Being accused of a DUI violation in Pasadena, California, can be terrifying, and when your sentence includes enhancements, you need the finest defense possible. You will require a lawyer familiar with California's DUI statutes and can spot flaws in the district attorney's case.
Our Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm attorneys will assess your case and advise you on the best course of action for your legal defense. Call us at 626-628-0564 to schedule a free consultation with us right away.