A woman was arrested this week after she was caught driving with a blood alcohol content over three times the legal limit and with five children in the car.
Rhode Island State Police were notified by a staff member of the Lincoln Woods State Park about a woman who appeared to be drunk and preparing to drive away in a minivan with five children, ages ranging from seven months to ten years old.
When officers confronted Leah Beatriz Duran, 41, of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, she backed into one of the officer’s vehicles in an attempt to flee, according to police.
Once officers were able to stop Duran, they determined that her blood alcohol content was 0.279 and 0.277.
Duran was charged with drunk driving with a child under the age of 13, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving without insurance, failure to carry a license, and failure to maintain reasonable and prudent speeds.
The children were turned over to relatives and Duran is due in court later this month where she will be facing up to a year in jail based on a new law passed by the Rhode Island legislature.
“Drunken or drugged driving becomes something much worse when a child is in the car,” said Rhode Island Senate Majority Whip Maryellen Goodwin, who sponsored the bill which increased penalties for DUI when children are in the vehicle. “Besides threatening his or her own safety and that of everyone else on the road, that driver is risking the life of a child for whom he or she is supposed to be responsible — a child who has no choice or control over their presence in that car. That’s a more serious crime that warrants stiffer penalties. Tougher sentences will send a strong message that makes people think twice about endangering kids in this way.”
While not the same as Rhode Island, California also treats DUI with children in the car very seriously. Not only is a person looking at the punishment under California’s DUI law, they are also looking at additional penalties under California Vehicle Code section 23572, also known as California’s DUI child endangerment enhancements.
Under California Vehicle Code section 23572, a first time DUI conviction where a minor under the age of 14 is in the car will bring an additional 48 hours in a county jail on top of any jail time the underlying DUI sentence might carry. A second time DUI conviction will bring an additional 10 days in jail. A third time will bring an additional 30 days in jail. A fourth will bring an additional 90 days. Furthermore, these penalties are to be served consecutively, not concurrently with the underlying DUI penalties.
The prosecutor need only prove that you were driving under the influence and that there was a minor child under the age of 14 in the car while you drove.