Can a Passenger be Charged with DUI?
DUI refers to driving under the influence. As such, the term pertains solely to the individual operating the vehicle. If you’re riding in a car that’s operated by an intoxicated driver, you can’t be charged for their actions. Still, this question “can a passenger be charged with DUI?” interests many people and a couple of scenarios will have to be examined in relationship with it.
Who’s Driving the Vehicle?
There may be a situation in which the police officer can’t figure out who has been driving the vehicle.
Such a scenario may be possible whenever the vehicle is stopped at the time the police inspection takes place or if it has caused a crash. It’s possible for all people involved to be out of the vehicle – a situation in which it may be difficult or impossible to tell who was driving.
An investigation will be used in such a situation to figure out who was driving. The theory is simple to understand. In practice, however, it may be a bit difficult to determine what happened and who’s the responsible party.
Helping the Driver
A passenger riding on the front seat could eventually help the driver who’s intoxicated and much slower to react than usual. Steering the vehicle instead of the driver is possible but does such involvement qualify someone who’s not the driver for a DUI? How can a passenger be charged with DUI?
According to the law, anyone who is operating a vehicle can be charged with driving under the influence. Steering classifies as operating the vehicle under the circumstances.
If you are suspected of being intoxicated and you’ve steered, chances are that you may be questioned. As an intoxicated passenger, it’s best not to touch the steering wheel or interfere with the activities of the driver. Police officers will ask you many leading questions and you could potentially incriminate yourself. This is one situation in which a drunk passenger could potentially be charged with DUI (even if your intentions were to prevent an accident).
Other Scenarios in Which it’s Possible to Get a DUI
Intoxicated passengers risk getting charged with DUI in a few additional situations.
If you are the only person inside the vehicle and you’ve consumed alcohol, chances are that you’ll be charged with DUI. This could happen when you’re waiting for a friend in the car. The driver could have gone to the nearby store, leaving you alone in the automobile.
When someone calls the police about you being drunk and driving, it’s also possible to get charged with DUI. This may happen even if you’re not in the vehicle and you’re at home. If a test shows that you’ve been drinking, you may get in some trouble.
A final (quite unlikely situation) is you pushing your car to the side of the road while you’re intoxicated. Attempting to remove the vehicle could lead to the assumption that you’ve been driving beforehand. As a result, you may be charged with DUI, even if you haven’t driven.
Switching your place with the driver and doing other things that could potentially jeopardize people on the road may lead to some additional charges. After all, it’s irresponsible to let a drunk person drive or to interfere with the activities of the driver if you have been consuming alcohol.
If you’re under 21, you may be charged with underage drinking or the possession of alcohol. This is especially true when alcohol is found in the vehicle. In such a situation, you still risk experiencing a license suspension, regardless of the fact that you haven’t been driving.
Charges of public drunkenness and drug possession are also possible.
A passenger who switches their position with the driver or who provides misleading data to the police could be charged with providing false information.
No matter what the situation is, it’s best to stick to the truth and contact an attorney as soon as possible. As a passenger, chances are that you will not be charged with anything. Still, getting legal assistance will give you a much better idea about your rights in a situation that may otherwise be deemed quite confusing, and leave you with doubts, such as “can a passenger be charged with DUI?”