If you are arrested for DUI and you have a child under 14 in the car, you could be charged with a more serious crime under Vehicle Code 23572, or you could be charged with the crime of child endangerment under Penal Code 273a.  If you are not charged with child endangerment, but are convicted of DUI with a child under 14 in the car, you are facing the real possibility of serving time in jail. Below are the penalties you could face for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol with a child under 14 years old in the vehicle.

Penalties for DUI (CVC 23152)

child in vehicle of dui
DUI with child

If you are convicted of DUI, the penalties are harsh, and the punishment gets harsher for each conviction you have in a 10-year period. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • First offense: 96 hours jail time, half of which is consecutive

Fine of up to $1,000

Driver’s license suspended or restricted for 6 months

  • Second offense: Up to 1 year jail time

Fine of up to $1,000

Driver’s license suspended or restricted for one year

  • Third offense: Up to 1 year jail time

Fine of up to $1,000

Driver’s license suspended or restricted for 2 years

  • Fourth offense: Up to 1 year jail time

Fine of up to $1,000

Driver’s license suspended or restricted for 4 years1

Sentence Enhancements for DUI with a Child Under 14 in the Car (VC 23572)

If you drive under the influence while a child under 14 is a passenger in the vehicle, your sentence will automatically be enhanced. This means that in addition to the above penalties for DUI, you could be sentenced to more jail time. Your sentence will depend on whether you have any prior DUIs within 10 years.  Here’s how it breaks down:

  • First offense: 48 hours mandatory jail time
  • Second offense: 10 days mandatory jail time
  • Third offense: 30 days mandatory jail time
  • Fourth offense: 90 days mandatory jail time

However, the prosecutor could decide to charge you with a more serious crime of child endangerment for having a child under 14 in the car, even if the child wasn’t injured. Child endangerment under PC 273a means you willfully placed a child in a dangerous situation. If you are convicted of child endangerment, you won’t be subject to the above penalties for DUI with a child in the car, but you will face more severe punishment for child endangerment.2

Penalties for Child Endangerment (PC 273a)

Child endangerment is a wobbler offense, which means it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor child endangerment is punishable by up to one year in county jail. Felony child endangerment is punishable by 2, 4 or 6 years in prison.

If the court grants probation, as a condition, you will be required to complete a one-year counseling program. Because drugs or alcohol were a factor, probation will include abstinence from drugs and alcohol and random drug testing.

If child protective services get involved, you could lose custody of your child.

California prosecutes cases involving child endangerment aggressively. If you’ve been arrested for DUI and you had a child in the car, it is crucial that you talk with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately so that you will be facing the least severe charge possible.3

Call Wallin & Klarich if You Have Been Arrested for DUI with a Child in the Car

At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled attorneys have over 30 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing DUI charges. We will meet with you and plan a defense strategy that can get you the best possible result in your case.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI defense attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.


1. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&division=11.5.&title=&part=&chapter=2.&article=2.

2. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&division=11.5.&title=&part=&chapter=2.&article=4.

3. http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displayText.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&division=&title=9.&part=1.&chapter=2.&article=

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