DUI Passenger Laws in Pennsylvania
As unfortunate as it is to say this, it is not uncommon for people to drive under the influence. It happens every day, and more often than not, those individuals will get pulled over due to reckless driving. What is even more interesting is the passengers. In the majority of DUI charges, the passenger of the vehicle was also intoxicated. These people generally are not expecting to get charged too, since they were not driving. But they do need to be aware that in Pennsylvania, a DUI charge is possible and they could face severe penalties, such as probation, jail time, fines, and could even have their license suspended.
Can Passengers Be Charged With DUI?
In Pennsylvania, impaired driving is defined as driving, operating, and controlling the movement of a vehicle after consuming too much alcohol that impairs safety. In fact, someone can be charged and found guilty of drunk driving if they have a BAC that is .08 or higher.
For passengers, they don’t have control over the vehicle, so they will most likely not be charged with a DUI under that specific definition. However, in Pennsylvania, there are other DUI related charges that they could be hit with, such as reckless endangerment, open container charges, underaged drinking, switching seats with the drunk driver to avoid a DUI charge, or has interfered with the vehicle operating in any way.
- Reckless Endangerment: Passengers can be charged with this because if they knowingly got into a vehicle with a drunk person operating it, it is considered reckless endangerment. Keep in mind that if passengers are drunk too, their judgment is impaired and they may not have known the danger they were getting into. This is one of the reasons why this charge for passengers gets dropped with the assistance of a defense attorney.
- Open Container Laws: If the passenger is in a vehicle with open alcohol containers, they could be charged, even if they were not drinking them.
- Underage: If the passenger is intoxicated and is underage, they can be hit with underage drinking and the driver could also be charged with providing alcohol to a minor.
- Switching Seats: If an intoxicated person was pulled over, and the passenger switches seats with them to avoid a DUI charge, they can both be charged with several crimes, such as providing false information to an officer.
- Interfering with Vehicle Operations: If a passenger was intoxicated and interfering with the driver, (such as grabbing the wheel, hitting the driver, etc.) inhibiting them the necessary concentration to drive safely, they can face a variety of criminal charges, especially if there was an accident as a result of DUI.
Fighting DUI Related Charges
If you were an intoxicated passenger who was arrested with a DUI related charge, then the best thing you can do is consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to better help with your case. The sooner you contact someone the better because they can help you with finding favorable details to lower your charges or dismiss them altogether. Never plead guilty without talking to a professional first and have someone defending your side to mitigate the negative consequences.