If you are in a vehicle with a driver who is driving under the influence (DUI), you may be stopped by a law enforcement officer. Many individuals feel incredibly nervous in this situation. You may be unsure if you will face criminal charges alongside the driver, especially if you were drinking as well.
You should know that you cannot generally get a DUI in the passenger seat in California. Go over the situations that could lead to DUI charges here with the Simmrin Law Group. You can also review other criminal charges you may face for driving in a vehicle while inebriated by calling (310) 896-2723.
California’s Definition of DUI Charges
It’s important that you understand that you should only be charged with a DUI if you are:
- Operating a vehicle while
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Merely riding in a vehicle while you are inebriated is not enough to lead to DUI charges. In fact, the vehicle must be in motion and you must play a role in controlling the vehicle to face DUI accusations in California. This means it is very unlikely you will get a DUI in the passenger seat.
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Situations That Can Lead to DUI Charges in the Passenger Seat
While the odds that you will be charged with a DUI while riding in the passenger seat are low, it is not impossible. You may face DUI charges as a passenger if:
You Assisted the Driver in Operating the Vehicle
Sometimes, passengers reach across to grab the steering wheel while a vehicle is in operation. You may take this drastic action to prevent an accident. Regardless of the reason, if you take control of the wheel – even temporarily – you could face DUI charges if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over the legal limit.
Note that you do not have to answer the questions of police officers if they ask you if you touched the wheel or otherwise assisted the driver. You should not lie, but you can politely decline to comment so as to avoid incriminating yourself in this situation.
There Is Confusion About Who Was Operating the Vehicle
Sometimes, law enforcement officers are unsure who was driving a vehicle. This may happen if you were involved in a DUI accident and everyone got out of your vehicle. Even if you were only a passenger, a police officer could come to believe that you were operating the vehicle. In this situation, you could be arrested for a DUI. Make sure you call (310) 896-2723 if you are arrested to speak with a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles.
Additional Criminal Charges for Vehicle Passengers
In addition to DUI charges, you could face a number of other criminal charges as a vehicle passenger in California. For example, you could be penalized for underage drinking if you are:
- Under 21 and
- Your BAC is above 0.01%
You do not have to operate a vehicle to face legal trouble for underage drinking. If you were in possession of alcohol in the vehicle, you could face additional criminal charges. Police officers may also accuse you of public drunkenness if one of your friends is arrested for a DUI while you are in their vehicle.
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Get Assistance with DUI Charges as a Passenger
If you were accused of a DUI while driving in the passenger seat, you can get professional help quickly from a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. The team at the Simmrin Law Group can investigate your case thoroughly. We can:
- Stand up for you during legal interviews
- Monitor the police as they investigate your case
- Work to get your charges dismissed
- Take steps to get your charges reduced
- Defend you in court if your case goes before a judge
There are a number of defenses that can be used to defend you from DUI charges. Our DUI lawyers in Los Angeles could work to show that you did not actually touch the steering wheel from the passenger seat.
We can also work aggressively to demonstrate that you were not the driver if police officers are unsure who was operating a vehicle. Allow us to demonstrate that you were actually a passenger at the time of the DUI offense.
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Handle DUI Charges from the Passenger Seat
It’s unlikely, but you can get a DUI in the passenger seat in California. Review the best methods to handle this criminal charge by reaching out to the Simmrin Law Group now. We are ready to begin working on your defense today. Just call (310) 896-2723 or fill out our online contact form.
Our team of DUI lawyers in Los Angeles can begin focusing on your legal needs today with a FREE consultation.