Can a Drunk Passenger be Charged with DUI in Arizona?
Arizona’s DUI penalties are known to be some of the harshest in the country. Drivers who are impaired while operating vehicles will face serious consequences like license suspension, hefty fines and even jail time. How about the passengers in the car, however? Are they responsible for the DUI in any way and will those who were riding in the car also face legal consequences?
Accomplice to DUI?
Driving under the influence is an easy to understand criminal offense – you have to be operating a vehicle in order to commit a DUI.
Is it possible, however, to be seen as an accomplice in the case of a drunk driving accident?
The short answer is yes. Over the past few years, there have been several instances of Arizona passengers facing criminal charges due to the fact a driver was found guilty of driving under the influence.
One of the instances in which a passenger could face criminal charges involves persuasion. If you, for example, persuade an intoxicated person to drive a car, and the police can prove such efforts on your behalf, you could potentially face criminal charges.
Passengers could also be held accountable for the presence of illegal drugs in the vehicle after a search is performed. While they’re not going to be charged with DUI in this situation, they will still face criminal charges related to the possession of illegal drugs.
As you can see, DUI scenarios can get really complicated. There have been cases setting the precedent in Arizona legal practice when it comes to being a passenger in a car operated by an intoxicated driver. On top of facing eventual legal issues, you’re also endangering your life each time you get in the car with someone who has used alcohol or drugs. The best thing to do is to refrain from riding in the vehicle. Taking a cab or having a designated driver will both be much better choices.
Can Passengers Drink in the Car?
This is another important question that many Arizonans cannot answer.
If you’re not operating the car, are you free to consume alcohol in it?
When a car is pulled over by a police officer, the law enforcement professional will interact with the driver (ask for license, registration, ID). During this interaction, the police officer will observe the behavior of the driver and the passengers, as well as the interior of the car.
Arizona, just like many other states, has open container laws. The local regulation states that neither the driver nor the passengers can consume alcohol while in the car. Even if the people in the car aren’t drinking, it’s still illegal to have an open bottle or a can of alcohol.
A violation of the open container law is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Arizona, whether the driver or the passengers are responsible for the criminal offense.
Open container laws don’t apply solely to the individuals that are riding in a limousine or a taxi. If you’re in a friend’s car, however, you can’t sip some beer while the two of you are going from one location to another.
Arizona DUI attorneys can help car passengers who have violated one law or another. The fact that you were not operating the vehicle doesn’t mean your situation is better than the one the driver is facing. You could still end up with a criminal conviction that’s going to change your life.
Driving under the influence is a problem affecting everyone. Encouraging a person to operate a car while impaired or getting in the vehicle with them is irresponsible and dangerous. This is why you may have to face some legal consequences for such actions.
Click here for information on what to do if you get a DUI in Arizona.