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Vista DUI and Child Endangerment Defense Lawyer

Arrested for a DUI With a Child in the Car?

California has strict laws surrounding child safety, and defendants in child abuse cases can receive harsh penalties. Even if you had no intention to harm a child, prosecutors will seek hefty punishments if you were negligent in a way that put a child in danger of serious injury or death. For example, if a child was in a vehicle during a DUI collision.

If you or someone you love was arrested for a DUI involving child endangerment, do not hesitate to contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys. For more than 30 years, our Vista law firm has fought to reduce charges or earn dismissals after our clients are arrested for DUIs. We can begin preparing your defense immediately, negotiate with the district attorney, and advocate for a full dismissal of your case before a court. Call (760) 630-2000 to get a free case evaluation with a Vista drunk driving defense lawyer.

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When DUIs and Child Endangerment Overlap

Being arrested for DUI on its own is a scary situation. But in addition to California’s legal limits on driving while intoxicated, there are also laws that apply when a passenger is in the vehicle. If someone drives with a BAC of 0.08% or higher and has a passenger who is younger than 14 in the vehicle, he can be charged under California Vehicle Code 23572.

VC 23572 is a sentencing enhancement, which means the defendant in a DUI case may be required to serve a mandatory minimum of 48 hours, 10 days, 30 days, or 90 days in county jail, depending on if this is his first or a subsequent offense.

However, a district attorney may also choose to charge this defendant with child endangerment under Penal Code 273(a). Child endangerment charges apply when a defendant willfully put a child’s health, safety, or well-being in danger, which would apply to having a child in the car while driving under the influence.

To charge you with child endangerment, the prosecution must show that:

  • You willfully placed a child in a situation where he/she could suffer great bodily harm or death; or
  • You willfully caused a child to suffer physical pain or mental suffering; and
  • You acted with criminal negligence.

A district attorney is more likely to charge you with this if the child was injured in the DUI accident.

It is important to note that you cannot face both a DUI enhancement for a minor passenger and a child endangerment charge in the same case. The courts expressly forbid it, and the prosecution can only charge you with one of them.

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What Are the Consequences of a Child Endangerment Charge?

Child endangerment due to DUI comes with hefty fines on top of those of a traditional DUI. While you may not face the mandatory sentencing guidelines, the prosecution can charge you with either a misdemeanor or felony, based on the nature of the crime.

Misdemeanor child endangerment can lead to:

  • Up to one year in a county jail;
  • A maximum fine of $1,000;
  • Misdemeanor probation for a minimum of 48 months.

Felony charges are more common in cases where the child is very likely to have suffered an injury or did suffer an injury. Felony child endangerment comes with harsher penalties, including:

  • Up to two, four, or six years in state prison;
  • A maximum fine of $10,000;
  • Felony probation; and/or
  • Loss of certain rights.

You will also face the penalties for a DUI charge, including jail time, court fines, license suspensions, and DUI school. It is very likely that Child Welfare Services (CWS) will become involved and limit your custody. At the end of the day, a child endangerment DUI charge can transform your life, but there are ways to defend yourself.

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Beating Your DUI Charge

If you are charged with child endangerment in Vista, it is important to understand the underlying action that led to your arrest. A skilled defense attorney can go to work to get the DUI dismissed, potentially avoiding a child endangerment charge at the same time. Child endangerment charges can also be based on reckless driving unrelated to a DUI, such as speeding, getting in an accident, and making dangerous maneuvers, which an attorney at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys can also fight against.

With our more than 30 years of experience defending North County residents in DUI cases, we can prove that:

  • The child was in no danger of being injured or did not suffer injuries due to your actions or negligence.
  • The child suffered an injury prior to the collision that is unrelated to your actions.
  • You only showed the objective signs of a DUI and were not intoxicated.
  • The police did not properly perform a field sobriety or breathalyzer test during your arrest.
  • The police committed another act of misconduct during your arrest.

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Call a Top Vista DUI Attorney

No parent ever wants to put their child in danger, and being accused of child endangerment can be a major blow to your reputation. There are many factors in these cases, and you should only trust your defense to a skilled attorney with the know-how to go through every detail. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, you not only get the experience of a dedicated DUI legal team, but also the expertise of a board-certified Criminal Law Specialist. Our lead Vista criminal defense lawyer can discuss your case in a free, confidential consultation and explain how to avoid a full conviction. We have years of success defending North County residents from DUI convictions. Let us handle your case. Call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys at (760) 630-2000 to get started on your defense.

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James N. Dicks

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