Can I Get Arrested If I Am A Passenger Of A Drunk Driver?
Have you ended up riding in a car where the driver is drunk? Were you worried that if they got pulled over and arrested for a DUI, that you would be arrested too? Although it is unlikely that you will be arrested, it has happened before. Depending on the officer, different circumstances, and the state you are in, there could be some consequences.
The first thing you might ask is can passengers drink alcohol in a car.
An open container law prohibits people from drinking in public. Every state defines what “public” is. Most states designate a vehicle as a public place, so by default, a passenger who is drinking an alcoholic beverage is in possession of an open container. Open container laws were made to protect communities by reducing injuries from drunk driving and disorderly conduct.
Can you have an open container of alcohol in a cab, Uber, or limo? This is dependent upon state and city laws as well, but for the most part, you cannot drink alcohol in the back of a Uber, cab, or limo. In certain states, vehicles operators can obtain a special license so passengers are allowed to drink in their car. Some Uber drivers won’t allow it even if the state does because they don’t want spilled alcohol in their car. On the other hand, some Uber drivers don’t know or care about the law and will allow their passengers to drink. To be safe, it would be better to know the laws in the city you are in.
If Both the Driver and the Passenger Are Intoxicated
If you are a passenger in a car that gets pulled over and the officer suspects drunk driving, the officer will also evaluate your level of intoxication. You can also be asked to take a field sobriety test to see if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is possible you will be taken to jail if you fail one of these tests. Of course, you can refuse to take the tests, but then you may face other consequences. If you are really drunk, the officer could arrest you for being drunk in public. However, in most cases, the officer will ask you to call a sober friend to come get you and drive you home.
If you are a passenger and you are drunk, do not grab the steering wheel. If you grab the wheel while the other person is driving for any reason, you can get a full blown DUI.
If the Passenger is Sober But the Driver is Intoxicated
If you are a passenger in a car where the driver is drunk and you are sober, you should not get in trouble for any reason. You can read stories online about sober people being arrested or charged when their driver was drunk, but it is not a crime. If you are in a situation where you are being charged but were sober, you need help from a lawyer.
What Should I Do If I Get In Trouble for Being a Passenger With a Drunk Driver?
If you were a passenger when the driver was arrested for a DUI, you may face minor charges. These charges can be reduced or dropped in court. It helps if you have an experienced DUI lawyer who knows what they are doing in the courtroom where your case is pending. If you need a DUI attorney in the San Diego area, give Bradley Corbett a call. He will talk to you anytime of the day and will even schedule a free consultation with you.
Don’t let a silly charge be put on your record. The Law Offices of Bradley Corbett can help you resolve your issues in a stress-free way.
Bradley Corbett is a criminal defense attorney in San Diego. He graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo Utah in 2004. Later he enrolled at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where he participated in a prestigious internship program with the Los Angeles County Public Defender. Since then he has handled over 2,000 cases.