Riding in the Car with a Drunk Driver

While you should avoid riding in a car that is driven by someone who is intoxicated, you might find yourself in that situation sooner or later. And, although you can’t be charged with any crimes for simply being in the vehicle when someone is stopped for a DUI, this doesn’t mean you are off free and clear in all cases. Your fate as a passenger will hinge on several important pieces of information.

First, the officer who pulls the vehicle over will assess your level of intoxication. If you’re sober, you may be hit with the hard question of why you weren’t driving when it became clear that your friend was unable to drive and you better give them a convincing answer. Most likely, you’ll need to prove that you’re not currently licensed to drive, don’t know how to drive, or have a medical condition or legal restriction that prevents you from driving at certain times of the day or in certain situations.

If you can’t give them a convincing argument as to why you weren’t driving, you may be arrested and charged with reckless endangerment. The arresting officer will argue that you put yourself, the driver and members of the public in danger by allowing a drunk driver to take the wheel. Their case may be bolstered by the presence of other passengers in the vehicle.

Not all states frown on this interpretation of reckless endangerment statute. The arresting officer may choose to take no action and allow you to leave the scene of the accident. Here you’ll have several options for getting home. If you’re licensed to drive, you may be given permission to drive your friend’s vehicle home for the night. In other cases, you may be allowed to ride in the tow truck that brings the vehicle to the impound lot and then transported to your residence by a police officer. In some cases, you may be escorted home in the back of the second police car at the scene.

If you fail a sobriety test or blow above the legal blood-alcohol limit, you may face a different set of consequences. Most arresting offices will ask you to call a sober friend or taxi company to drive you home from the scene of the accident. If you can’t get in touch with a suitable driver, you may be arrested for public intoxication and forced to spend a night in jail. While these charges are often dropped or reduced in court, you’ll still be thoroughly inconvenienced.

Rather than lose a good friend or spend the night in jail, think about the consequences and call an Uber. Drinking and driving is no joke and driving in the vehicle with a drunk driver puts you in just as much danger as if you were driving yourself. If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you were arrested and you weren’t the drunk driver, we can help. Contact Carl Anderson Law today at 801-285-0303.