DUI and California’s Child Endangerment Law

Under California law, a driver arrested for a DUI and who had a minor in the vehicle may be charged with a violation of California’s Child Endangerment Law. Not only is a child in a vehicle with a drinking driver at risk from the impaired driver, but also from the lack of safety restraint use (like a seat belt or child safety seat). Drinking drivers are much less likely to make sure a child is properly restrained. Statistics show that sober drivers had restrained their children 30.5 percent of the time, compared with only 18 percent for drinking drivers.

…her two young kids were in the backseat when arrested for DUI

When a California mother-of-two was arrested on suspicion of DUI, her two young kids were in the backseat of her car. She was charged with child endangerment and manslaughter, after reportedly causing a fatal crash.

Local authorities charge that the “intoxicated” woman was speeding at around 3:45 a.m. with her toddlers, aged 1 and 2, sitting in booster seats in the back of her sedan when she struck another car from behind.

The 24 year-old mother’s vehicle spun off the road, while the other car, an SUV, collided with a tree, causing two backseat passengers to be thrown out of the vehicle onto the road. A 30-year-old man was declared dead on the scene, while another passenger was rushed to a local hospital. The two children were also taken to the hospital but were said to be uninjured and are now in the custody of Child Protective Services.

In California, if a driver is caught driving under the influence and has a child under the age of 14 in the car with them, the prosecution may charge the driver with DUI as well as a charge of violation of Vehicle Code section 23572. A first time DUI conviction where a minor under the age of 14 is in the car will bring an additional 48 hours in a county jail. A second time DUI conviction will bring an additional 10 days in jail. A third conviction will bring an additional 30 days in jail.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman