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Can a passenger get a DUI?

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Drunk Driving

You’re riding in a car with your friends, leaving a social gathering. You know that everyone has been drinking, including you. You also know that it’s not wise to drive with someone who is under the influence, but alcohol impairs your judgment and so you do it anyway.

After about 10 minutes, the car gets pulled over. As the officer walks up towards the front window, you can see how nervous the driver is. But should you also be nervous? Is everyone in that car at risk of getting alcohol-related charges, such as a DUI? Or is it just the driver who may be arrested?

It is very rare

Generally speaking, passengers are not going to be given a DUI, as the law states that physical control of the car is one of the qualifiers for drunk driving charges. If you’re sitting in the back seat, even though you’re intoxicated, you’re clearly not controlling the car and you don’t need to worry about a DUI.

There are rare cases in which something like this could happen, though. For instance, the police may claim that you were actually the one driving but you switched seats with the other person when you saw the flashing lights. Or they may allege that the passenger in the front seat was reaching over to control the car as it was driving. Furthermore, if anyone in that car is underage, they could face other alcohol-related charges, such as those for minors in possession. 

So, while you are likely not going to face legal charges in this situation, your nervousness is warranted. And if you do end up getting arrested, it’s very important to understand exactly what legal steps you can take