What Happens to Passengers When Arrested for DUI in Arizona?
Arizona is one of the states that brag the strictest sanctions for driving under the influence. Vehicle operators are the individuals who will face the consequences but what will happen to the car’s passengers when arrested for DUI in Arizona?
Consequences for Passengers: An Overview
The passenger of a car cannot be charged with DUI under Arizona regulations.
Arizona Revised Statutes suggest that a person has to be operating a vehicle and intoxicated at the time of the police stop. Thus, a passenger cannot meet these requirements even if they have consumed alcohol or used drugs.
If a police officer suspects there are illegal drugs in the car, a search may be performed. Depending on the findings, passengers could be held accountable and they may eventually face criminal charges. These will take place independently of the DUI charges that the driver will be dealing with.
A search, however, isn’t going to take place so easily. A police officer will need to have probable cause to move on with that step. A gut feeling or a suspicion on behalf of the law enforcement professional will be insufficient to move forward with a vehicle search.
Obviously, people who get in a car with an intoxicated driver are putting themselves and others in danger. While they will not face legal consequences most of the time, it is often up to them to discourage someone to operate a vehicle under the influence.
Some Situations Can Lead to Confusion
There are a few more specific scenarios that could lead to eventual consequences for passengers.
In some instances, a police officer will find it impossible to determine who has been operating the vehicle. When all people get out of the car in the case of a crash, for example, knowing who has been the driver is not 100 percent possible.
Intoxicated passengers who decide to turn the steering wheel and steer the car may also face DUI charges. Even if the driver is sober in such cases, the involvement of the passenger in the vehicle operation process could lead to sanctions for both parties involved.
Dealing with Police Questions
Arizona police officers are trained to assess the situation whenever a vehicle is pulled over. As a passenger, you may face certain questions that will help the police officer get a complete picture.
If you are sober, you will be asked why you didn’t drive and instead allowed an intoxicated person to operate the vehicle.
Usually, the only convincing answer in this situation is that you don’t have a valid license. Otherwise, you may face endangerment charges. The decision to refrain from driving and have an intoxicated person behind the wheel puts everyone in the car, as well as the public in danger of injuries and even death.
People who are not sober will typically be asked to do a field sobriety test. They will not face consequences. Usually, police officers will ask them to call a sober family member or an acquaintance who will help them get home.
As you can see, the situation will often be left to the interpretation of the respective law enforcement professional. For best results, you should cooperate and be polite. You do not have the obligation to do a field sobriety test or to answer questions that could potentially lead to self-incrimination or incriminating the driver of the vehicle. While passengers when arrested for DUI in Arizona are typically not going to be sanctioned, there may be a few situations in which criminal charges could be made.
Avoid getting in a car with a drunk driver and look for a safer alternative if you can. If you’re ever in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver and you get pulled over by the police, you should definitely get in touch with an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible.
FAQs on Passengers in a DUI
What happens to a drunk passenger?
A drunk passenger is subject to the same laws as a driver in Arizona. If you are found to be intoxicated, you can face criminal penalties including jail time, fines, license suspension, and court-ordered counseling and/or DUI school.
Is it illegal to be a drunk passenger in Arizona?
Yes, it is illegal to be a drunk passenger in Arizona. It is considered a form of public intoxication, which carries many of the same consequences as driving under the influence.
Can a passenger get a DUI in Arizona?
A passenger can get a DUI if they are intoxicated and interfere with an officer’s job or act in a manner that jeopardizes public safety. This includes riding with an impaired driver; even though the passenger didn’t cause the impairment, they still can be charged for aiding a violation.
What is the penalty for DUI with a child passenger under 15 in Arizona?
In addition to standard DUI penalties, if you are convicted of DUI with a child passenger under 15 in Arizona, you face enhanced penalties of a minimum 30 days in jail and up to 270 days in jail, plus fines and other assessments.
Can you drink in a limo in Arizona?
No, drinking in a limo (or any other vehicle) while it is in operation is illegal. Alcohol should only be consumed away from the vehicle and never while driving or riding as a passenger.
Can a passenger be cited for open container in Arizona?
Yes, passengers can be cited for open container violations in Arizona. As long as alcohol is within reach of any occupant while the vehicle is in motion or on public roads, law enforcement can issue citations.