Recently, a Newhall man was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment after it was discovered he was driving drunk with an 11-year-old in the car. According to reports, deputies received several notifications at around 2pm Friday of a collision that occurred at the intersection of Soledad Cyn. and Crossglade Ave. in Canyon Country.
When deputies arrived, they discovered that a van had rear-ended another vehicle in the intersection. Upon making contact, deputies noticed that the driver of the van was exhibiting signs of intoxication. After field sobriety tests, it was discovered that the driver had a blood alcohol level of .26, or nearly 4 times the legal limit. The deputies also learned that an 11-year-old child was sitting in the passenger seat at the time of the accident.
The driver of the van was arrested on suspicion of child engangerment with the possibility of great bodily injury, driving without a license, and driving under the influence of alcohol.
Child endangerment is covered under California Penal Code 273a PC and is described as wilfully exposing a child under the age of 18 to unjustifiable pain, suffering, or danger. It is possible to be charged and arrested on child endangerment charges even if the child is not in any way injured – much like the child in the case above.
In some cases, child endangerment is charged along with cases of child abuse (or vice-versa). However, they are not the same crime. Child endangerment, as previously stated, occurs when someone unnecessarily puts a child under the age of 18 in a situation in which they may be hurt. Child abuse, on the other hand, covers a broad number of actions that cause the child to suffer. Getting into a car accident doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is putting a child in danger. Accidents happen. However, the fact that the suspect was under the influence of alcohol when they were driving makes the situation dangerous and, thus, counts as child endangerment.