DUI and Child Endangerment

Two young children were injured and their father was arrested for DUI in Fresno, California at the weekend. The DUI suspect, Cristian Menchaca, aged 20, allegedly crashed his car into two other vehicles with his three year old daughter and one year old son in the vehicle. Police reported that the young girl was not properly restrained in the car. She suffered facial injuries. Both children required hospital treatment.

Driving under the influence of alcohol with children in the car normally leads to an additional charge of child endangerment pursuant to Penal Code section 273. This allegation may be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. If young children are injured in a DUI traffic collision, the child endangerment charge would be filed as a felony, which may be punished by two, four or six years in state prison. A misdemeanor charge of child endangerment carries a maximum penalty of one year in county jail.

California Vehicle Code section 23572 also provides a sentence enhancement for a DUI conviction where a minor under the age of fourteen was a passenger in the vehicle at the time of the commission of the DUI. A first offense will carry an additional punishment of 48 hours in county jail, a second offense, 10 days county jail and a third offense, an additional 30 days county jail. None of these enhancements apply where the defendant is convicted of child endangerment.

An arrest for DUI involving children in the vehicle is also likely to lead to a visit from Child Protective Services. Normally, a parent will be expected to attend a 52 week parenting class. This class would also be ordered by the court if the defendant is convicted of child endangerment.

Anyone arrested for DUI with children in the vehicle should consult with a reputable and experienced defense attorney. Los Angeles DUI lawyers Jeffrey Gold and Nigel Witham have over 40 years of experience successfully defending these types of cases. Please call for a free case evaluation.


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