Featured News 2018 Passengers & DUI: Can They Be Arrested?

Passengers & DUI: Can They Be Arrested?

You and some friends are leaving a concert you attended. Before you get in the car, you ask the designated driver if he is okay to drive since you saw him have a couple of drinks. He said he's fine, but as you're cruising down the road, a cop pulls over the vehicle and asks where you're all coming from. The driver responds "from a concert," and the cop asks him to take a breathalyzer. Sure enough, the driver is drunk, and you're in the backseat. What does this mean for you?

If You Are Over 21-Years-Old & Also Intoxicated

If you are over 21-years old, intoxicated, and in a car with someone who just obtained a DUI, you will likely have to find a ride home. Sometimes, the police are willing to drive you to your house, but you may need to call a friend or an Uber to come get you. Since you are intoxicated along with your friend, it was a "smart choice" that you didn't drive, and therefore you will likely get off scot-free.

However, if the police really want to punish you, they can charge you with public intoxication in some states. This charge can be a misdemeanor that goes on your record; in others states, it can carry a fine for the intoxicated. It should also be noted that public intoxication is not illegal in some states.

Therefore, how a DUI affects an intoxicated passenger is dependent on the state laws and the arresting officers.

If You Are Over or Under 21-Years-Old & Are Sober

If you are over 21-years old, sober, and in a car with someone who just obtained a DUI, you may face harsher punishments than if you were intoxicated. Your previous "good" decision to not get drunk may turn into a "bad" decision if the driver is pulled over for DUI. The police will question you as to why you weren't the driver instead of the intoxicated person. If you cannot provide a valid reason as to why you were not the driver, the police may charge you for reckless endangerment. If you can provide a valid reason, you will then have to obtain a ride home since you cannot drive the car.

Some value reasons for not driving while sober include the following:

  • Suspension of your driver's license
  • Lack of a driver's license
  • Medical condition that prohibits driving

If You Are Under 21-Years-Old & Also Intoxicated

This is arguably the worst case scenario for a passenger of a DUI recipient. If you are under 21 years of age, you will likely be charged with underage drinking. When a driver is charged with a DUI, the other passengers are asked about their intoxication status as well. Therefore, if you are under 21 and are found to be intoxicated, you may be charged with underage drinking. This can lead to the suspension or revocation of your driver's license, or the prohibition to be able to obtain a driver's license. Additionally, you may face jail time, community service, and fines for underage drinking.

Getting Legal Help If Charged

If you have been charged with DUI, reckless endangerment, or underage drinking, it is wise to seek out a trusted criminal defense attorney. There is no reason that you should automatically plead guilty to a charge without first talking to a defense lawyer. No matter the circumstances involving your charge, getting protection for your rights is always the best option.

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