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DUI with a Child Under 14 in the Car - Vehicle Code 23572 VC

California Vehicle Code 23572 VC is the law that imposes increased penalties if you drive under the influence with a child under the age of 14 in the vehicle. These penalties include a mandatory 48 hours of jail on a first-time DUI offense and an enhanced DUI penalty for up to an additional 90 days of jail time.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense with significant repercussions. Still, when a child under 14 is in the vehicle, California law imposes even harsher penalties under VC 23572.

DUI with a Child Under 14 in the Car - California Vehicle Code 23572 VC
VC 23572 VC imposes increased penalties if you are DUI with a child in the vehicle.

In other words, suppose you are convicted of DUI when a minor under age 14 or younger is in the car with you. In that case, this law mandates that you will spend time in jail, even if it's your first offense, even if it's a misdemeanor, and even if the judge declines to impose jail time for the offense itself.

Vehicle Code 23572 says, "(a) If any person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 and a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the offense, the court shall impose the following penalties in addition to any other penalty prescribed:

(1) If the person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23536, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 48 continuous hours in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which shall be stayed.

(2) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23540, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 10 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(3) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152 punishable under Section 23546, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 30 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(4) If a person is convicted of a violation of Section 23152, which is punished as a misdemeanor under Section 23550, the punishment shall be enhanced by an imprisonment of 90 days in the county jail, whether or not probation is granted, no part of which may be stayed.

(b) The driving of a vehicle in which a minor under 14 years of age was a passenger shall be pled and proven.

(c) No punishment enhancement shall be imposed pursuant to this section if the person is also convicted of violating Section 273a of the Penal Code arising from the same facts and incident."

What are the Enhanced Penalties Under VC 23572?

Vehicle Code 23572 VC provides for increased penalties if a driver is convicted of DUI while a child under the age of 14 is in the vehicle. These enhancements are imposed in addition to the standard penalties for a DUI conviction. The additional penalties are as follows:

  • First DUI Offense: An additional 48 hours in county jail.
  • Second DUI Offense: An additional ten days in county jail.
  • Third DUI Offense: An additional 30 days in county jail.
  • Fourth or Subsequent DUI Offense: An additional 90 days in county jail.

These enhancements reflect the state's effort to protect children from the heightened dangers posed by intoxicated drivers. It's important to note that these penalties are mandatory and must be served consecutively to any other jail time imposed for the underlying DUI conviction.

What Are the General DUI Penalties and Consequences?

Beyond the enhancements specified under VC 23572, a DUI conviction in California (under VC 23152) carries severe penalties. These penalties escalate with subsequent offenses. The general penalties for DUI include:

First DUI Offense:

  • Informal probation for 3 to 5 years
  • Fines and penalty assessments totaling between $1,500 and $2,000
  • Attendance at DUI school for 3 to 9 months
  • A 6-month driver's license suspension (often mitigated by the installation of an ignition interlock device)
  • Up to 6 months in county jail

Second DUI Offense:

  • Increased fines
  • Longer DUI school duration
  • A 2-year driver's license suspension
  • Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for one year
  • Up to 1 year in county jail

Third DUI Offense:

  • Further increased fines
  • Extended DUI school requirements
  • A 3-year driver's license suspension
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for two years
  • Up to 1 year in county jail or state prison

Bear in mind that if your DUI occurs with a child under age 14 in the vehicle, the mandatory jail time under VC 23572 will be imposed on top of any sentence for the DUI itself.

Furthermore, a DUI conviction can lead to long-term consequences beyond legal penalties. These may include increased car insurance rates, employment difficulties, and a permanent criminal record, affecting various aspects of personal and professional life.

What are Related and Similar Statutes?

Several related offenses and sentencing enhancements often accompany or are similar to those imposed under VC 23572. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Vehicle Code 23582 VC - DUI with Excessive Speed and Reckless Driving. This statute imposes additional penalties if an individual drives under the influence and simultaneously exceeds the speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour on surface streets or more than 30 miles per hour on highways. The additional penalties include a minimum of 60 days in county jail, which is added to the penalties for the underlying DUI offense.
  • Vehicle Code 23578 VC - Enhanced Penalties for Excessive Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or Test Refusal. Under VC 23578, the court can impose stricter penalties if a driver has a BAC of 0.15% or higher or refuses to submit to a chemical test. These enhancements include longer jail time, extended license suspension, and mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device.
  • Penal Code 273(a) PC - Child Endangerment. This law defines the crime of child endangerment as intentionally placing a child under 18 in a situation that threatens their health and safety. This includes exposing the child to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger. The child doesn't need to experience physical harm, just that there is an unreasonable risk of it.

What are the Common Defenses Against VC 23572 Charges?

Suppose you are accused of DUI with a minor under age 14 in the car. In that case, an experienced California criminal defense attorney may employ several defense strategies to counter the charges as well as the enhancement:

  • No DUI Conviction: Since the enhancements under VC 23572 only apply if you are convicted of DUI, successfully challenging the underlying DUI charge can prevent additional penalties.
  • No Minor in the Vehicle: Proving that no child under 14 was in the vehicle during the DUI can nullify the sentence enhancement.
  • Lack of Probable Cause: Demonstrating that the police lacked probable cause to stop or arrest you can lead to dismissal of the charges.

Contact our criminal defense law firm for more information. Eisner Gorin LLP is based in Los Angeles, CA.

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