If you commit a DUI offense with a minor in your car, then you will most likely face a sentence enhancement. The state will not only charge you for driving under the influence but also for endangering the life of a child. Committing a DUI offense with a passenger under 14 onboard will cost you an enhanced jail sentence. Whether you are a first time offender or you have committed a prior DUI offense; you will require the expertise of a competent attorney to represent you. For first time offenders, the court processes may be overwhelming while for prior offenders, their stakes of facing conviction may be high.
At Leah Legal in Los Angeles, our lead attorney Leah and her team of competent attorneys have the experience and skills necessary for DUI cases and will offer you the best legal representation possible. Here is all you need to know concerning DUI with a passenger under 14:
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Overview of DUI with Passenger Under 14
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence. It refers to the crime of operating a vehicle with a BAC Limit that exceeds the one set by a state. BAC limit refers to the amount of alcohol present in a driver’s car while operating a vehicle.
DUI with a passenger under 14 refers to a DUI sentence enhancement that drivers face when they commit a DUI offense with a child on board. The law states that drivers will face additional sentences and penalties if, during the time of a DUI arrest, there was a child below the age of 14 in the car. This DUI charge discourages drivers against endangering the life of minors.
The charge for DUI with Passenger under 14 falls under the vehicle code 23572 of California law. The law provides for severe penalties for offenders who operate vehicles while intoxicated and in the company of children under the age of 14 years. This means that the driver faces charges for driving under the influence and for endangering the life of a child.
You may also face charges under the PC 273a laws that are not DUI related. The law convicts people who endanger the lives of children in California. However, It is vital to note that you cannot face the above two charges simultaneously. You can only face standard DUI charges and a violation of one of the two laws.
The penalties for the violation of DUI with a passenger under 14 are more enhanced, and the court processes are somewhat overwhelming. The penalties will be more severe, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Similarly, the sentence will be more enhanced if you have committed a DUI offense before. Hence, it is essential to hire an excellent attorney to represent you in court. This ensures that your penalties are reduced and that you do not face a sentence enhancement.
Understanding the DUI with Passenger Under 14 Offense
The DUI with a passenger Under 14 in California is a sentence enhancement set forth that consists of additional jail time on top of standard DUI penalties. This, therefore, means that you will face another additional sentence if, during a DUI arrest, you had a child under the age of 14 in your car. The offense falls under the Vc 23572. The jail time for each person varies depending on the circumstances that surround your case.
When a police officer notes that your driving pattern is wanting, he/she will request you to pull over your car for a BAC test.
The test will typically be a breath or blood test. Breathe tests measure the amount of alcohol present in the air when you breathe while blood tests measure the amount of alcohol present in your blood. While the legal systems prefer blood tests because of their credibility, they are more invasive and take a longer time to process. Most tests on the ground are done via breathing because blood tests have to be done in custody or a hospital.
Once the police officer determines your BAC limit, he /she will take your license away and charge you with either driving under the influence charge or driving with a BAC of 0.08% and above depending on your limit. If during the time of arrest, you have a passenger under the age of 14, then you will also face an additional sentence enhancement for violating the VC 23572.
After determining your BAC limit and concluding that you have committed a DUI offense, the police officer will then forward your case to the court. Forwarding to the court is meant to help the prosecution team determine that you are guilty of the charges that they are accusing you of.
The court processes for DUI cases can be very lengthy and overwhelming. It, therefore, requires the expertise of excellent lawyers to maneuver around. The attorney should be able to defend you in the best possible ways, including seeking sentence reduction for the charges and a plea bargain.
In addition, the police officer will send your driver’s license to the Department of Motor Vehicles following your DUI arrest. The Department of Motor Vehicles is the body responsible for regulating drivers and licenses in California. You will be issued with a temporary driving license to give you enough time to apply for a DMV hearing. The hearing allows you to appeal for reinstatement of your license.
The DMV conducts the hearing via phone for minor cases and in-person for situations that are aggravated. While the outcome of the hearing does not have any impact on the actual court case, winning it could prove beneficial for you. Our lawyers may use the outcome of your hearing to influence the jury positively.
The penalties for DUI with a passenger under 14 vary depending on the category of DUI offense one commits. This is because DUI with a passenger under 14 is not a specific charge on its own but is an enhancement of your current charge. You will, therefore, face additional charges to your DUI charge.
You can only face charges of a DUI with a passenger under 14 if the state has charged you with either driving under the influence or driving with a BAC above 0.08%. The penalties for a standard DUI charge include but are not limited to:
First Offense DUI
The penalties for committing a DUI for a First-time offender are:
- Payment of a fine of up to 1000 dollars
- Your driver’s license may be suspended for between four to ten months
- A jail sentence of up to six months in a county jail
- You may face a probation period of up to five years as an alternative to your six-month sentence
The penalties for a person who has committed a prior DUI offense include:
- Suspension of Driving license for up to two years
- Payment of 1000 dollars as fine
- Jail sentence of up to one year in a county jail
- Mandatory attendance of a DUI school for up to eighteen months
The penalties for this offense are:
- Suspension of driver's license for up to three years
- Mandatory enrollment in a DUI program
- Fines of up to 1000 dollars
- Jail sentence of up to one year
- Mandatory installation of an IID
Since a DUI with a passenger under 14 is only a sentence enhancement, a driver will face the above penalties for committing the DUI charge. This means that the driver will face an additional sentence for the DUI with a passenger under 14. The additional sentence will vary depending on the DUI offense one is facing. The sentence enhancement for DUI with a passenger under 14 are:
- First offense- an additional 48 hours sentence on top of your DUI charge sentence
- Second offense- an additional ten days sentence on top of your DUI sentence
- Third offense- an additional 30 days sentence enhancement
If the offender is facing a fourth of additional DUI offense, the jail sentence issued by the court will be enhanced by ninety days.
Additionally, it is essential for a DUI with a passenger under 14 offenders to remember that these sentence enhancements are mandatory. This means that if the court finds you guilty of committing the offense, you will have to face a jail sentence. The only way of avoiding the sentence is having your DUI with a passenger under 14 offense dropped. To get this outcome, you will need to hire an excellent DUI attorney to represent you. The attorney will seek to have the charges reduced to child endangerment.
As mentioned above, a DUI with a passenger under 14 is not an independent charge. This means that the offense has to be coupled with another DUI charge. The charges related to DUI with a passenger under 14 include:
Driving Under the Influence
The code for this law is the VC 23152, commonly known as the standard adult DUI charge. This code prohibits drivers against operating vehicles with a BAC limit that exceeds the accepted legal limit in California.
Similarly, you face this DUI charge when you operate a vehicle with a BAC limit that is above 0.08%. If you violate this code with a passenger under 14 in the car, then you will face the violation of VC 23572 and in worse circumstances, the violation of the Penal Code 273(a) child endangerment.
The child endangerment law in California punishes people who willfully endanger the life of minors. It falls under the Penal code 273(a). While this law does not directly relate to DUI, the court could also charge you for violating it.
Under this code, it is considered a crime to possibly put the life of a child in danger. Although the law specifically talks about the protection of minors, i.e., those under 18 years and below, it sometimes applies to DUI with a passenger under 14. If the circumstances surrounding your DUI crime is severe, and you have a child in the car, then the jury will charge you with this offense.
Most people with a DUI with a passenger under 14 may face this charge because it does not necessarily require the injury of a child for the state to convict you of the crime. If your lawyer is unable to present a good argument to the jury on your behalf, then you may find yourself facing this charge along with a serious DUI charge. It is therefore essential to hire a good attorney to ensure that your DUI sentence is as light as possible.
Common DUI Defenses
To get you off the hook for a DUI with a passenger under 14, your attorney has to come up with an excellent defense strategy that works in your favor. Most experienced Attorneys have no problem doing this because they are well vast on DUI charges and know where to look for weaknesses. A good defense will not only save you from a DUI with a passenger under 14 but could also get you reduced or zero penalties for Driving under the influence charge. The common DUI defenses that lawyers use are:
- Your arrest was not lawful
- The tests may have been tampered with
- The officer failed to read you your rights during the arrest
- The equipment measuring BAC may have been faulty
- The sobriety tests did not reflect intoxication
- The time taken to process the tests were wrong
DUI Plea Bargains
The common DUI defenses are not always applicable to all cases. This is typical when there is no loophole that the attorney can use to defend you. It, therefore, means that the prosecution team did not make any mistakes and that the BAC tests were accurate.
When this happens, your attorney may choose to take the plea bargain that the prosecution offers you. He/ She may take the bargain in order to get you off the hook for a DUI with a passenger under 14. The plea bargain offered to you will in most cases eliminate the enhanced sentence for a DUI with a passenger under 14.
Accepting the plea bargain means that the offender will accept to plead guilty of driving under the influence charge. In return, the prosecution will offer you a set of reduced penalties that your lawyer has to agree with. Although most lawyers prefer to battle it out in court, the plea bargain does have its merits. They include:
- Your driver’s license will not be suspended
- The fines will be lower
- The jail time may be minimal or none at all
- The impact on your car insurance will be less negative
The following types of charge reductions may be offered to you during a bargain:
- Wet Reckless charge – this charge refers to a reckless driving conviction with a note in the records that indicates that alcohol or any other drug was involved in committing the offense. However, this reduced charge is still probable meaning that if you commit another DUI offense, the court will convict you as a repeat offender.
- Dry reckless charge- This charge typically comes from a plea bargain. Unlike with the wet reckless charge, with this charge, your records won’t indicate alcohol or drugs. This charge will hence not count as a DUI, but the state considers it a misdemeanor crime.
- Traffic Infractions- the prosecution team, usually offers this bargain when they feel that the DUI charge will not stick. The infraction is not a criminal offense and will, therefore, not land you in jail. However, to receive such a bargain, your DUI charge should not be severe. This is because it is difficult to reduce a severe charge to a mere infraction. A traffic infraction is not a crime; it will only cost you a small fine.
The ability of your attorney to negotiate with the prosecution goes a long way in eliminating your DUI with a passenger under 14 sentence enhancement. You should have a team of excellent attorneys who are familiar with DUI defenses and child endangerment laws to represent you. This will ensure your rights are protected and possibly get a lighter sentence.
Find a DUI Attorney Near Me
It is always important to keep in mind that a good defense strategy is vital for any criminal case. This means that you should have the right legal representation team for your DUI case. A good lawyer will ensure that the prosecution team drops the DUI with a passenger under 14 charges or at least have your sentence reduced. Consequently, you could only face charges for child endangerment.
For many years, attorney Leah has been representing clients facing DUI charges and other criminal offenses. With the team of dedicated attorneys at Leah Legal, you can be sure to get the best possible legal representation from us. We believe that every defendant has a right to a criminal process, and we are ready to defend your rights. Please get in touch with us today at 818-484-1100, so we can help you.