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Can I Get a DUI if I am a Passenger?

In California and every other state, there are a comprehensive set of laws that criminalize driving while under the influence of alcohol, driving under the influence of controlled substances, and driving under the influence of inhalants and chemicals.

You can even get a DUI in many states if you are sitting behind the wheel with the keys in the ignition (but not driving) if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is high enough.

In California, you can get in trouble if you drive with an open container of alcohol, even if your BAC is well below the legal limit of .08%. But what if you are a passenger? Can you get a DUI if you are clearly “under the influence” of alcohol?

Passengers and California DUI

Is there such thing as a California DUI for passengers? Thankfully, no there is not. You cannot get a DUI as a drunk passenger unless you were somehow DRIVING the car. In order to have a DUI case, you must have the element of “driving.”

The only way that you, as an intoxicated passenger could get a DUI, is if the prosecution could prove that you were in actual physical control of the car, which is highly unlikely unless you WERE driving and you quickly switched seats with the passenger during a police stop.

If you were only the passenger – then no, you should not get a DUI, no matter how “drunk” you are. However, if the police think that were driving and you switched seats with the passenger, the police can arrest you. If that has happened to you, be sure to get a DUI defense attorney right away.

You are at risk of losing your driver’s license, and you could be facing DUI charges. If you were arrested for DUI, even if you weren’t actually driving, you have just 10 days to request a DMV hearing so you can contest the automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

No matter the circumstances of your DUI arrest, contact our Orange County DUI defense firm for a free case evaluation. Call the DUI Queen today!