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Vehicle Code 23572 DUI with Minor Passenger

California Vehicle Code Section 23572 VC provides for additional punishments for driving under the influence (DUI) with a minor in the vehicle. If a drunk driver has a child in the car at the time, the driver can face additional jail time and a mandatory minimum amount of time in jail. If you were arrested on charges of a DUI with additional punishments under 23572 VC, contact a local East Bay DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Vehicle Code 23572 VC Text 

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23572:  

If any person is convicted of a DUI 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:

  • 1st DUI Violation: Additional 48 continuous hours in the county jail.
  • 2nd DUI Violation: Additional 10 days in the county jail.
  • 3rd DUI Violation: Additional 30 days in the county jail.
  • 4th DUI Violation: Additional 90 days in the county jail.

These enhanced penalties are in addition to the standard DUI penalties. This is also mandatory imprisonment. The enhanced imprisonment cannot be stayed by the court, whether or not probation is granted. 

Elements of the Offense

In order for the prosecutor to get a conviction for a DUI with a minor passenger, the prosecutor needs to prove every element of the case, “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If there is any doubt that even one element is not met, the accused should be found not guilty. 

Vehicle Code 23572 VC

Under the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, to prove the defendant is guilty of the VC 23572, the state has to prove: 

  1. The defendant drove a vehicle; 
  2. When he or she drove, the defendant was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, or a drug, or a combination of alcoholic beverage and drug; AND
  3. A minor under 14 years of age was in the vehicle. 

A minor is generally anyone under the age of 18. However, for the DUI minor penalties to apply, the minor has to be under 14 years of age. A 14-year-old passenger or older would not result in enhanced penalties under VC 23572. 

“Under the influence” means that as a result of taking a drug, the driver's mental or physical abilities are so impaired that he or she is no longer able to drive a vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.

A driver is “per se” under the influence of alcohol if defendant's blood alcohol level was 0.08 percent or more by weight.

Defense Strategies for a DUI with Minor Passenger in California 

Defending against a DUI with minor charges includes all the same defenses to standard DUI charges. This includes challenging chemical test results, challenging field sobriety test results, or challenging that the individual was driving at the time. If the defendant is able to avoid DUI under Vehicle Code 23572, then there will be no enhanced penalties. 

It may also be a defense to the enhanced penalties if the minor was not under the age of 14 at the time. The arresting officer may have thought a child looked younger than 14 but the child could have been older. If the prosecutor cannot prove the passenger was under 14, the defendant should not be convicted of the enhanced charge. 

Plea Bargain to Wet Reckless

If your DUI defense lawyer is able to negotiate a plea bargain down to a “wet reckless,” the enhancement for a minor passenger will not apply. A wet reckless under Vehicle Code 23103.5 has reduced penalties. The enhancement for a DUI with a minor passenger only applies to DUIs, not a wet reckless conviction. 

Child Endangerment Charges for Minor Passengers Under 18

A driver with a minor passenger could also face criminal charges for child endangerment under California Penal Code 273(a). A conviction for misdemeanor child endangerment can include up to 1 year in prison. A conviction for felony child endangerment can include up to 6 years in prison.  

The DUI enhancement only applies to minors under the age of 14. However, child endangerment charges can apply for a DUI with a minor passenger under 18. With minor passengers who are age 14 to 17, the driver can face child endangerment charges but not the DUI enhancement. 

Under the Vehicle Code law, “no punishment enhancement shall be imposed pursuant to this section if the person is also convicted of a violation of Section 273a of the Penal Code arising out of the same facts and incident.” 

A driver with a minor passenger could face either a conviction for VC 23572 or PC 273(a) but not for both. A prosecutor may charge both offenses but the defendant cannot be convicted for both offenses. 

Defense Lawyer for 23572 VC Charges in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

Some drivers face a DUI with minor passenger charges even if they were not intoxicated. A false chemical test should not harm your rights as a parent. East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 35 years of DUI experience, and understands the consequences of a DUI for California drivers. Representing drivers in Alameda County and Contra Costa County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local DUI laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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