Can Passengers Really Receive a DUI?
You plan a night out. Since you know you will be at an establishment serving alcoholic beverages, you prepare in advance for the required designated driver. Since you will not be behind the wheel, you plan to let loose and have that extra drink of choice. On the way home, the police pull the car over; however, you have nothing to fear. You are safe in the passenger’s seat, and you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your driver drank only water and soda all night. Much to your dismay, the officer begins questioning you as a passenger. Can you receive a DUI for riding drunk as a passenger?
Mind Your Manners
At any traffic stop, it is important to stay calm, quiet, and polite, regardless of being a driver or a passenger. An officer in most cases will ask if you know why you are being pulled over. Do not answer this any other way than “no,” because any information given to him or her can and will be used against you. After that, he or she may let you know his or her suspicions and may ask for the driver's license and registration. He or she may also ask passengers for identification. As a passenger, you are not required to give an officer anything. Nevertheless, intentionally withholding identification may lead to further investigation. An officer who believes there is illegal activity can detain a passenger, potentially leading to arrest.
Etiquette that may help the situation includes:
- Dispose of cigarettes or chewing gum;
- Turn on the interior light at night;
- Do not rummage through purses, pockets, or the glove box until asked to do so;
- Answer politely; and
- Follow simple requests that do not incriminate anyone.
Can a Passenger be Arrested for Drinking?
To qualify for a DUI, you must be in control of the vehicle and be over the legal BAC limit. As passengers are not usually in control of the car, it is unlikely that you qualify for DUI charges. However, if the officer has reason to believe that a drunk passenger was in control of the vehicle at any time, he or she can be arrested for suspected DUI. For instance, at the scene of an accident, the passenger and the driver are both standing outside of the vehicle. Another way passengers may find themselves under arrest is for breaking other laws during their ride, including:
- Having an open alcoholic container in a moving vehicle;
- Underaged drinking; or
- Belligerent behavior.
Call for Help
If you were arrested as a passenger while drinking, you might have been unfairly treated. A DuPage County, IL criminal defense attorney can help. Call Davi Law Group, LLC at 630-580-6373 to schedule your initial consultation. Let us help defend you when you need it most.