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Family with their child dealing with DUI

Getting stopped for DUI can be stressful and upsetting, but it can be even more traumatic if you have children in the vehicle with you at the time. DUI, or driving under the influence, means that you are operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. DUI is a serious crime that results in severe penalties. The penalties may be even more severe if you are found to be driving with children in the car when you get stopped for DUI. Additional charges may apply, and there could be the possibility of having your children taken away. If you are pulled over for DUI in Ventura, it is usually in your best interest to fight the charges with help from an experienced criminal defense attorney.

DUI Sentence Enhancements

If you are charged with DUI with minor children in the vehicle, you could face additional charges. These charges or sentence enhancements will increase the penalties that could result from a conviction. There are two main charges that could result from DUI with a minor. The prosecutor may charge you with an additional charge of child endangerment or with a sentence enhancement of DUI with a minor. 

  • DUI With a Minor: DUI with a minor (California Vehicle Code 23572) is a sentence enhancement that could be added to a DUI charge if you had children in your vehicle at the time of the arrest. The enhancement applies to those with children under the age of 14 in the car. The enhancement adds 48 hours additional jail time to a first time DUI conviction and more time for subsequent DUI convictions. 
  • Child Endangerment: Unlike DUI with a minor, Child endangerment is a separate charge. The charge applies when children under the age of 18 were put in danger. In general, a charge of child endangerment may apply in cases where someone intentionally put a child at risk. Child endangerment charges can result in up to six months of additional jail time, up to $1,000 in fines, and up to 4 years probation, in cases where the child was not actually injured. 

Typically, child endangerment charges were only utilized in extreme cases, such as when the driver was driving in a reckless manner or when their BAC was extremely high. However, the charge may be used whenever a DUI driver has children in the car. 

Can CPS Take My Child Away?

It is important to know that California Child Protective Services does not automatically take your child away if you were involved in a DUI with a minor. All charges of DUI with a minor will be reported to CPS. CPS will determine whether they need to investigate the matter. They will investigate the matter and if they determine the child is in danger, they could take steps to remove the child from your care. Some of the things they will review is the safety of the child in the home, whether you have an alcohol or drug problem, whether you are abusive to your children, whether you provide proper care, and whether you regularly drive while intoxicated. 

If you are charged with DUI with a minor or DUI and child endangerment, you will need to vigorously defend the DUI charges. Whether a minor was with you in the vehicle is easy to prove, so therefore, it is best to seek acquittal of DUI charges in the first place. A knowledgeable DUI attorney knows the defense options available and will work hard to defend your case and protect your rights. To find out more about DUI defense, contact our lawyers at David Lehr Law today at (805) 477-0070 for a free case evaluation.