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Can a passenger be charged with a DUI?

On Behalf of | Apr 21, 2023 | Criminal Defense

You were out late one night with friends when you needed a ride home. A friend offered to drive. On the way home, police pulled the car over under the suspicion that the driver was drunk. 

As a passenger, you may believe that there’s no way you could be charged with DUI. However, there are a few ways you and your friend could face DUI charges or similar charges. To understand when you could be charged with a DUI, you should consider the following scenarios: 

The driver was drunk, but the passenger was sober

If, for example, your friend was drinking before they started driving, then they are in clear violation of the law. If you were sober and aware that the driver is drunk, then you could be charged with a DUI and reckless endangerment. Reckless endangerment is the willful act of disregarding the consequences. The consequences were that the driver was drunk and may have caused a fatal accident.

Another way this could happen is if the driver caused an auto accident. As a result, you switched places with the driver so they wouldn’t suffer a DUI charge. If it’s found out that you weren’t driving, then you could suffer from more than DUI charges.

You could also be charged with a DUI or similar charges if the police suspect that you helped steer the car from the passenger seat. This could have occurred after you realized that the driver was drunk.

The driver was sober, but the passenger was drunk

If you were drinking and realized that you needed someone sober to drive, you could still be charged with a DUI as a passenger. For example, there may have been an auto accident. If it isn’t clear who was driving, then the police could suspect that you were driving. Or, they could suspect that you and the driver switched places so that you would avoid a DUI charge.

You need to get home safely no matter what. If you are facing criminal charges then you may need to be aware of your legal rights