As a passenger in a vehicle, you cannot be charged for a DUI, as the acronym stands for “driving under the influence.” However, there are situations where a passenger is technically considered a driver, or where a passenger is mistaken as the driver.
It’s always good to have a designated driver should you and some friends decide to go out for drinks. Unfortunately, not all designated drivers refrain from drinking, which means your vehicle may be pulled over for a suspected DUI. If this scenario does play out, it’s important to know if you, as a passenger, can face charges in a DUI arrest.
DUI Passenger Charges
The law states that anyone who touches a steering wheel while a car is in motion is a driver. Therefore, if a passenger in the car grabs the steering wheel (even in an attempt to steer the car away from a potential accident), then he or she is a driver. This technicality means that if a passenger under the influence grabs the steering wheel and crashes the car, the passenger could face a DUI charge.
Additionally, in some scenarios, the arresting officer may be unsure of who was driving the vehicle when a car was swerving down the road. Therefore, he may charge the person in the driver seat and the passenger seat with a DUI.
Other Vehicle Passenger Drunk Charges
A passenger can be charged with other crimes during a DUI arrest. Police officers often give passengers a charge of underage drinking or underage possession of alcohol if they are under 21 and they fail a breathalyzer, or if there is alcohol in the vehicle. If a passenger is over 21, he or she can face a charge of public intoxication.
Additionally, if there are drugs in the car, all passengers will most likely be charged with drug possession if the police cannot determine who owns the drugs. Therefore, riding in a vehicle with drugs is never a good idea, even if the drugs are not yours.
As you can see, a routine DUI arrest can lead to charges for the passengers involved. If you or a loved one are charged with a crime during a DUI arrest, our firm can help. In fact, we have experience as prosecutors, which means we know how to counter their attacks.
Call (909) 328-6101 now for a free consultation with the attorneys at Newman & Allen concerning your case.