Stranger than Fiction: In Very Specific Situations You Could Be Charged with a DUI While You Are the Passenger in a Vehicle

Stranger than Fiction: In Very Specific Situations You Could Be Charged with a DUI While You Are the Passenger in a VehicleYou must be safe if you are a passenger in a car that has been stopped because the driver is suspected of driving while intoxicated (DUI). You can’t be accused of DUI by the police – or can you?

It turns out that, under some circumstances, a passenger can be accused of a DUI. Even if you are the passenger when the automobile is formally stopped by a police officer, you could still be charged with a DUI if there is any proof or reason to believe that you drove the car or may have assisted in driving it. Read on to learn more and then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 to request a free legal consultation.

Reasons you could be charged with a DUI while a passenger in a vehicle

There are three situations in which this could be an issue for you:

  • If you aid in controlling the car
  • If you were driving and a passenger switched places with you
  • If the policeman is unsure of who operated the vehicle

In any of these scenarios, even if you weren’t driving when the automobile was stopped, you could still be accused of a DUI.

What it means to “aid in controlling the car”

The legislation in California is crystal clear when it comes to directing the car. If a person touches the steering wheel or otherwise has control over a vehicle, they are regarded as being the driver of that vehicle.

In other words, even if what you did helped the driver escape an accident, you could still be punished with a DUI if you reach over to steer the car while intoxicated because you technically drove it. It’s important to note that you must be impaired in order to face charges in this case. Because the driver was intoxicated, you won’t be charged with a DUI if you only assisted with steering and were sober.

Exchanging seats after an officer arrives at the scene

Before an arresting officer arrives at the car, you could be detained if you were driving and exchanged seats. Even if you are now the passenger, there’s a high probability that switching was not as cunning as you thought it was. In either case, the police officer will arrest you for driving while intoxicated because they most likely spotted you crawling over the seat or driving while intoxicated.

When the police aren’t sure who was driving

In more exceptional circumstances, you can be given a DUI accusation just because the cops aren’t sure who was driving. This sometimes happens following an accident or if a drunk driver pulls over on their own, unaccompanied by police. It might be challenging for the authorities to determine who was driving if the car’s occupants exit before the officers show up.

As a result, they can make a DUI arrest for the incorrect person. When this occurs, a DUI defense lawyer can look into the case and fight to have the charges dropped by proving that you were not the one behind the wheel.

In addition to the potential for jail time, probation, fines, community service, a license suspension, and required DUI classes, a DUI can result in catastrophic repercussions. A tenacious DUI defense lawyer can fight back against a DUI accusation and assist you in getting the best result. Chambers Law Firm will be by your side throughout the process if you have been accused with DUI. For a free initial consultation, call us at 714-760-4088 or email dchambers@clfca.com right now.

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