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Name: In re J.N. et al
Case #: H034242
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 6 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/04/2010

Reversal for insufficient evidence of jurisdiction was required where the parents were involved in one-time drunk driving accident. The father was arrested for driving under the influence and both parents were arrested for child endangerment when the family was involved in an auto accident and the children were injured. The minors were detained and a petition was filed due to parent incarceration and inability to provide care due to substance abuse. The jurisdiction report stated that there had been no prior referrals regarding the family, the parents loved their children and worked hard to provide for them, and felt remorseful for what had happened. The disposition report recommended that the dependency case be closed because the evidence did not show that the mother had a substance abuse problem, the incident appeared to be isolated, and the mother did not need court supervision because she was on supervised probation. The juvenile court found the petition true and placed the children with the mother on family maintenance. The appellate court reversed, finding the evidence insufficient to establish that the children were at substantial risk of physical injury. In evaluating risk based upon a single episode of endangering conduct, a juvenile court should consider all the surrounding circumstances. Here, the evidence as a whole did not establish that the mother or father consumed alcohol regularly. The evidence showed that the children were healthy and well cared for. Further, the mother was no longer incarcerated and able to provide care. There was no evidence from which to reasonably infer that the parents were likely to have an ongoing substance abuse problem.