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DUIs with Kids in the Car

By Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney on March 20, 2023

California has strict penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. And there are several factors that may result in increased penalties, including the number of previous DUI offenses, unsafe driving, accidents, and if anyone was harmed or killed in a collision.

The age of your passengers is a major factor that impacts the penalties you may be facing. If you are arrested for DUI and any of your passengers are below 18 years old, you could be facing real jail time.

Judges and prosecutors take a harsh view of defendants who put children at risk. And prosecutors are very aggressive about seeking the maximum penalty in these cases.

In addition to time spent behind bars, a felony conviction for DUI with kids in the car could jeopardize your child custody rights, immigration status, gun rights, professional license, and access to public housing.

If you have been charged with DUI with kids in the car, you’ll want to seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, someone who knows the law inside out, and someone who’s ready to take on zealous prosecutors.

Enhance Penalties

If you are convicted of DUI and there is anyone in the car under 14, prosecutors may choose to include a sentence enhancement that can add up to 90 days of jail time to your sentence.

If the child is under 18, prosecutors also have the option of charging you with felony child endangerment. The penalties for “willfully exposing a child to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger” include up to 6 years in state prison – and that’s in addition to any penalties you receive for a DUI conviction! This will also be recorded as a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law.

A felony DUI conviction in California carries up to three years in prison. Factors that allow the DA to file felony DUI charges include:

  • An accident that causes harm
  • Three or more previous DUI convictions in the last 10 years
  • A previous felony DUI conviction
  • Up to 3 years in state prison

If a child is killed as the result of an accident that occurs while the driver is under the influence, the driver may be convicted of Gross DUI Murder, which carries 10 years to life in prison.

What If You Get pulled over for a DUI with Kids?

When you get arrested for a DUI with your children in the car, the police will probably call the child’s other parent to come and get them. But if they can’t find a family member who’s available to take the kids, they may be put into protective custody, such as a group home or foster care.

You may be subject to a protection order that prevents you from visiting your kids, or you could be subject to random drug and alcohol testing as a condition for spending time with them. You may also be investigated by Child Protective Services (CPS), and they have the authority to remove your children from your home if they find evidence that they are in danger.

Factors That Impact Sentencing

If you get pulled over for a DUI, don’t make any statements to the police. And request to see your attorney right away. Nothing you can say will help you, and it could hurt you a lot.

Your criminal defense attorney will confer with you and come up with the best defense strategy. They’ll be there for all your hearings and court appearances.

Factors that may influence the charges brought against you and your sentencing include:

  • Your level of intoxication
  • If drugs were involved
  • Traffic offenses
  • An automobile collision
  • If anyone was harmed or killed
  • The age of the children in the car
  • A BAC of .15 or higher
  • Excessive speed and reckless driving
  • Refusal to submit to a chemical DUI test
  • If you are under 21 at time of first DUI arrest

Were You Charged with a DUI with Kids?

Because the possible penalties for a DUI with kids are so severe, you’ll want to have a world-class criminal defense attorney by your side. Our team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP has been featured on ABC News, Fox News, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC. We’ll fight to protect your freedom every step of the way.

Call (213) 688-0460 to schedule a case review today.

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Posted in: DUI Defense