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Can Drunk Passengers Be Charged with a DUI?

Posted by Scott Mitchell | Jul 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

DUI is the acronym for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As it states right in the name, the crime involves actually operating a motor vehicle while drunk, something only the driver can do. Passengers should be completely safe from any legal repercussions if they encounter law enforcement, even if they are thoroughly intoxicated. Right? According to the law, maybe not.

Situations Where Non-Drivers Get DUIs

The police can arrest you for a DUI largely based on assumptions and probability, not hard evidence. If an officer has reason to suspect you were recently driving while intoxicated, a DUI arrest can still be permitted.

Scenarios in which you can get a DUI while not in the driver's seat include:

  • You fall asleep in your car to sleep off your intoxication and the police find you; you can be charged even if you were in the backseat and the keys were in the trunk.
  • You are the only person within a vehicle and you are intoxicated, such as when you are waiting for your sober friend to leave a party or bar and drive you home, or you decided to sit in your car to listen to the radio while drinking.
  • Someone calls the police to report seeing you driving while drunk; if the police show up to your home an hour later and you are in your living room intoxicated, you could get a DUI based on the eyewitness's tip.
  • You try to push your car to the side of the road, home, or into a parking spot while you were drunk; once again, the police can make the assumption that you had been driving it before they showed up.

Open Container Laws & Legal Support

Passengers can also get slammed with citations and arrests separate from a DUI while drunk inside a vehicle. In particular, open container laws apply to everyone within the vehicle. If one person in the car has an open alcoholic beverage, the police can make the assumption that everyone in there has been drinking it or holding it, effectively giving you and all your friends there a citation; the driver could even get hit with a DUI and lose their license. Any alcohol within a vehicle must be entirely sealed and full, or stored within the trunk where no one can access it while the vehicle is in motion.

If you have been charged with a DUI or another alcohol-related crime, contact Scott Mitchell Law Incorporated. Our Modesto DUI attorney can listen to your side of the story during a free case evaluation and let you know where to go from there. Call 209.529.7406 to begin.

About the Author

Scott Mitchell

If you expect nothing but the best for legal representation in any of these areas, you should contact Attorney Mitchell as soon as you realize you need assistance. He and his firm have handled more than 4,000 cases in the areas the law he practices, so you can be confident in him and his team.


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