According to state laws, the passenger of a vehicle can also be charged with a DUI arrest. While that may be uncommon, there are several cases where police can cite a DUI citation to a passenger. If this ever happens to you, then it’s prime time you call a DWI/DUI lawyer Albany to offer you legal advice on the necessary steps to take after your arrest. The different reasons why a police officer can charge a passenger in a DUI arrest include:
Police may charge you with a DUI arrest if they aren’t sure of the car’s driver. So, they end up charging everyone in the vehicle. In addition, police can experience uncertainty if they don’t see the vehicle in motion but are instead called to a particular location after a motor vehicle accident. Once at the location, the first thing they do is investigate to determine the cause of the accident.
They also try to determine the vehicle’s driver, but if that is still uncertain, they then arrest everyone, including the passenger. If an accident occurs, there’s a high possibility that the driver and passenger may be sitting outside the car. And sometimes both the passenger and driver may be too drunk to respond to questions.
Drunk Driver Switches Seats with a Passenger
Often, drunk drivers try to escape arrest by switching places with a sober passenger before an officer approaches the vehicle. And in most cases, that doesn’t work, as the new passenger can end up being charged with driving under the influence. In addition, if your BAC or blood alcohol concentration tests exceed the above legal limit or if you refuse to take a breath test, then as a passenger, you’re likely to face DUI charges.
You Allowed a Drunk Driver to Drive
The law doesn’t take reckless endangerment lightly, and that’s precisely what happens when a sober passenger allows a drunk driver behind the wheel. In such instances, a police officer can charge the passenger in a DUI arrest. However, there are several reasons why a police officer may let the passenger off the hook for allowing a drunk driver behind the wheel. These reasons include:
- Not knowing how to drive
- Not having a valid driver’s license
- Having a driver’s license with restrictions
- Not having your eyeglasses
But, if you don’t have a good explanation, you may end up facing reckless endangerment charges as a passenger. Also, if both you and the driver were intoxicated, then you might end up facing a host of other charges, including reckless endangerment.
The Passenger Tried to Steady the Wheel
The law defines a person driving a motor vehicle as the individual controlling the car or touching the steering wheel. This definition means that a passenger can be charged during a DUI arrest if they simply reach over the driver’s side to help steer the vehicle. It doesn’t matter if you were trying to avoid an accident; you’ll still be charged. However, the charges get more serious, especially if both you and the driver are intoxicated.
Suspicion of a DUI offense
A passenger can face criminal charges after a routine stop for suspicion of a DUI. However, this only occurs to passengers under the age of 21. And, depending on the facts of your case, some of the charges you may receive include:
- Possession of alcohol while underage
- Underage drinking
- Violating open container laws
Also, if drugs are found inside the car, everyone inside, including the passenger, can be charged with drug possession.
What Happens if a Passenger is Arrested?
So, what happens next after your arrest? The next steps you take depend on whether or not you’re intoxicated or where the traffic stop occurred. Here is one thing you should do:
Call a Lawyer
The best way to mitigate and identify your risk as a passenger facing DUI charges is to immediately speak to a DUI lawyer. A lawyer will not only help you protect your rights; they will also analyze the evidence against you. Then, based on the evidence, your lawyer can build a strong defense for your case if it goes to court.
Remember, your lawyer is your first line of defense, and by having one by your side, you are assured of the best possible outcome. While penalties for DUI charges differ based on your state, it still does come with possible jail time. And with your lawyer’s help, you can have a strong defense strategy for your case.