Can a police officer arrest you for DUI as a passenger?
In California, there are specific sets of laws that make it illegal to operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, or any chemicals/inhalants.
In many states you can even be arrested for DUI if you are behind the wheel of a vehicle with the keys in the ignition, even if not not driving, if your BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is above the legal limit. In California, driving with an open container of alcohol can also get you into serious trouble even if your BAC is below the legal limit of .08%.
Orange County DUIs and The Passenger
Is there such thing as a DUI for passengers? As the law is written now, no there is not. As long as there is no question as to who was driving the vehicle, an intoxicated passenger will not be charged with a DUI or arrested.
If you were only a passenger and there were no issues concerning driver and passenger switching seats – then no, you should not get a DUI no matter your intoxication level. If it was determined that the passenger and driver switched seats, then yes the police can arrest you in the passenger’s seat. In a different scenario, if the driver of the vehicle was arrested for DUI, you may still be arrested depending on what happens once you step outside of the vehicle; this is when a drunk in public charge can be levied against you.
What is DUI?
As DUI is defined today, driving under the influence requires driving. In California, driving means “operating a motor vehicle” not sitting in the passenger’s seat of one. If you are convicted of a DUI, you will be facing serious punishments, including fines, possible jail time, community service, and the loss of your license.
If this is a situation similar to yours, it is imperative you contact an Orange County DUI defense attorney today.
First DUI Penalties
If you have been arrested for your first DUI, it is imperative you remember that at all stages of the process, including arrest, your arresting officers must uphold your constitutional rights, such as the your right to remain silent and your right to be free from unreasonable searches.
If you feel your rights have been violated, speaking with a DUI attorney should be your first priority.
Below are common penalties for those convicted of their first DUI.
First Time DUI Probation:
Up to 5 years informal probation
1st Time DUI Jail
0 – 6 months jail
DUI Court Fines
$390 – $1000 BASE FINE + PENALTY ASSESSMENT = $2000 minimum
Participation in DUI School (3, 6, or 9 month programs)
What about my license?
The DMV also plays an important role in the entire DUI process. Did you know you have 10 days from the day of your arrest to contest the DMV’s automatic suspension of your license? The DMV hearing is a legal proceeding overseen by a DMV hearing officer, who has the sole discretion to suspend your license.
Most people arrested for DUI are unaware that the DMV undergoes this process so soon, or at all, after their DUI arrest. If you have been arrested for a DUI in Orange County, we highly recommend you contact the Offices of Chad Maddox as soon as possible. Defend your rights and protect your license!