One minute you are cruising down the coastline with some buds, the next minute, you have a cop in your face asking you to step out of the vehicle. Your friend/driver is being arrested for DUI, but you begin to wonder if you will be charged as well. Scott Monroe Law is here to clarify the possibilities so you are fully aware of the charges you could face.
Can a Passenger Receive a DUI Charge?
You may be wondering if passengers can receive a DUI charge, the short answer is no, a passenger is not a driver and cannot be charged with a DUI. The only time a passenger may be charged with a DUI is if he or she touches the wheel while the car is in motion.
Once a passenger touches the wheel (even to correct the driver’s steering) he or she becomes a driver in the eyes of the law. Therefore, a passenger who touches the steering wheel while intoxicated can theoretically be arrested for DUI.
What Are the Open Container Laws for Passengers?
If you or another passenger are in possession of an opened alcoholic beverage, you may be charged with breaking open container laws. An open container sentences, while not as severe as a DUI sentence, is still considered a misdemeanor in Florida.
While you may not own the open container, the police can charge multiple people with one container. That’s why you should never get in a vehicle with someone who is going to drink while in the car, even if you have no intention of partaking.
Public Intoxication Charges for a Passenger
If you are drunk when the police pull over the driver, you could be charged with public intoxication. Highways and roads are considered public areas in the eyes of the law, which means that you and your friends are “in public” despite riding in a personally-owned vehicle. Therefore, officers have every right to charge you for public intoxication as a passenger in a vehicle.
What Are the State's Underage Drinking Charges for a Passenger?
Regardless of your seating position in the vehicle, the police will charge you for underage drinking if you are a minor and your BAC is over the limit (0.02%). As a passenger in a DUI arrest, the police will undoubtedly ask for your age and take your BAC.
Even if you aren’t drunk, having a BAC over 0.02% is enough to charge you with underage drinking. One standard drink has enough alcohol to put any person at a 0.02% BAC, which means not drinking is the only way to stay under the limit.
We hope this blog has more than answered your question. If you or a loved one are accused of a DUI or any of the other charges mentioned above, Scott Monroe Law can help with your case.
Call us at (904) 474-3115 for a free case evaluation!