Motor vehicle crashes are a major cause of death for ages 3 to 14. In 2009, 14 percent of the children age 14 and younger who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were killed by drivers who were impaired by alcohol. Of the 181 children 0 to 14 years old who were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes during 2009, 51 percent of those killed were passengers in vehicles with drivers having a BAC level of .08 or higher. The death and injury figures for 2010 and 2011 are no less alarming.
California Vehicle Code 23572 adds additional punishment to a DUI sentence if the DUI offender has a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle at the time of the offense. In California, driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs constitutes a criminal and an irresponsible act. Courts in California have ruled that this includes placing a child in a car with an intoxicated driver. Penal Code 273a also prohibits placing a child in a potentially dangerous situation without taking steps to protect the child or allowing a child to be placed in a dangerous situation.
If the facts and circumstances pertaining to the DUI are in flagrant violation of child endangerment provisions, prosecutors will charge the defendant with a DUI and Penal Code 273a, California's child endangerment law.
A child endangerment charge subjects an offender to up to six years imprisonment in California and this crime may be charged even when the child suffers no actual injury. Depending on the circumstances, this enhancement, can add between 48 hours to 90 days of additional jail time to the DUI sentence.
California Law also punishes acts of child endangerment that result in death or serious injuries of young victims by a term of 25 years of life sentence.
It is easy and unfortunately very common for innocent people to face prosecution under DUI & California child endangerment laws. Scott D. Hughes is a criminal defense attorney in Orange County, California practicing in State and Federal Court and is well conversant with all kinds of child endangerment case investigations, grounds of prosecutions and its defense.