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Los Angeles DUI With Passenger Under 14

Los Angeles DUI With Passenger Under 14

Los Angeles DUI With Passenger Under 14

Getting arrested for a DUI is scary enough, but it gets even worse if you had a passenger under 14 years old in the car. DUI with a minor passenger leads to much harsher punishments in California. I’m going to walk through everything you need to know if you’re facing this charge in LA.

The Law in California

The California Vehicle Code 23572 specifically addresses DUI with a passenger under 14 [3]. It lays out mandatory jail time if convicted:

  • 48 hours in jail for a first offense
  • 10 days in jail for a second offense
  • 30 days in jail for a third offense

In addition, your license will be suspended for 1 year. The judge has no discretion to reduce the mandatory minimum sentence, even for a first offense. The law sees endangering a child passenger as an egregious offense that must be punished harshly.

Why is This Law So Strict?

The California legislature passed this law to deter drunk drivers from endangering minors. Children under 14 are especially vulnerable in a DUI accident. They’re smaller and less able to protect themselves from injury. The mandatory jail time is meant to be a wake-up call for drivers not to mix drinking and driving with kids in the car.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) strongly advocated for increased penalties for DUI with a minor passenger. They argued that the threat of jail is the only way to prevent drivers from making this dangerous choice. Not everyone agrees that harsher punishment is the answer. But the law comes from a place of wanting to protect innocent children.

What If My Child Needed a Ride Home?

A common defense for this charge is that you were just giving your own child a ride home. You can argue that you didn’t intend to endanger your son or daughter – you were being a responsible parent. However, the law doesn’t make any exception for driving your own minor child while intoxicated.

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In fact, prosecutors may argue you are even more irresponsible for putting your own child at risk. Don’t expect sympathy from the court for driving drunk with your own kid in the car. The law is designed to protect all children, not just those unrelated to the driver.

Are There Any Defenses?

Given the rigid nature of this law, defenses are limited. But a skilled DUI lawyer can still give you the best chance to avoid harsh penalties. Here are some options:

  • Challenge the DUI Stop – If the officer didn’t have probable cause to pull you over in the first place, the whole case could get thrown out. Any mistake in the initial traffic stop is grounds for dismissal.
  • Question Field Sobriety Tests – These non-scientific tests are subjective and prone to error. A lawyer can scrutinize the results for inaccuracy.
  • Dispute Breath/Blood Results – The testing equipment or procedures may have been flawed. This could weaken the prosecution’s BAC evidence.
  • Negotiate a Plea Bargain – Plead to a lesser charge like reckless driving to avoid the harsh DUI penalties.

An experienced lawyer will also dig into your case details to look for any other opportunities to beat the charges. Having a strong defense is critical to avoid devastating consequences.

What Are the Costs and Consequences?

Beyond the mandatory jail time, a DUI with passenger under 14 conviction also brings:

  • Fines up to $1000 plus penalty assessments
  • 12-month license suspension
  • DUI program enrollment
  • Ignition interlock device installation
  • 3-5 years probation

And those are just the legal penalties. You’ll also have to deal with harm to your reputation, job loss, and other life disruptions from this offense. The costs add up quickly for what seems like one mistake.

How Can I Move Forward?

Here are some tips if you’re facing DUI charges with a child passenger:

  1. Be polite and cooperative with police, but don’t answer questions without an attorney present.
  2. Hire an experienced DUI lawyer right away to start building your defense.
  3. Follow your lawyer’s advice about next steps carefully.
  4. Enroll in counseling or alcohol education programs before your court date.
  5. Gather character references from people willing to testify on your behalf.
  6. Reinstate your license as soon as possible.
  7. Develop a concrete plan for how you will avoid reoffending.

Taking positive steps shows the court you understand the gravity of your actions. It may help mitigate the penalties down the road. Most importantly, learn from this experience. Never drive after drinking, especially with a child in the car.

Get an Experienced Lawyer on Your Side

A DUI with a passenger under 14 charge has devastating consequences in California. Mandatory jail time and license suspension can derail your life. But an aggressive lawyer can challenge the charges and help minimize the penalties. Don’t go through this alone. Schedule a free case evaluation now to discuss your best defense with an expert Los Angeles DUI attorney.

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