Choosing a designated driver is an effective way to encourage safe driving. What happens, though, if a vehicle driver is charged with driving under the influence (DUI), but the passenger was not drinking? Even if they are sober, the passenger could face charges.
New Jersey’s DUI laws are very strict. A first offense with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent, but less than 0.10 percent, can incur a three-month license suspension, a $250 to $400 fine, plus additional fees, insurance surcharges, and possible jail time.
NJ Statute Title 39, section 39:4-50 applies to driving while intoxicated regulations. It was amended in 2013 with language added to include that a person who permits another person who is under the influence to operate a motor vehicle may also be subject to penalties.
All passengers in the vehicle will be evaluated for intoxication if pulled over by a police officer and will also be asked to take a sobriety test. Sober drivers will be questioned as to why there were not driving, since the vehicle’s operator should not have been behind the wheel. There are valid reasons for not being able to drive, including being underage, not having a valid license, or having a medical condition. If none of these apply, the passenger could be charged and arrested with reckless endangerment, since those passengers put themselves and others at risk by not taking over the wheel.
Sober drivers may not be arrested in every case, since police officers are not obligated to do so. The decision is up to the officer and the charges could be relatively minor, unless the vehicle belongs to another passenger who allowed the intoxicated person to drive. Sober passengers can end up in court by unknowingly placing themselves in risky situations.
The smartest advice is to prevent drunk driving from happening at all. Friends that plan to consume alcohol should always designate a sober driver ahead of time. If someone that has been drinking decides to drive, a sober companion has an obligation to take the keys. Too often, an intoxicated person insists they can drive.
Driving under the influence of drugs is another concern, given the popularity of marijuana and other, stronger substances. This could be harder to detect in someone, but still counts as intoxication and can cause serious or fatal car accidents. If the person seems clumsy and slow, has slurred speech, or is nauseous, they may be under the influence. No matter what causes a DUI crash, every passenger in the vehicle can be charged and prosecuted.
If you were involved in a DUI incident, you need help from the Cherry Hill DUI lawyers at Gigliotti Law Group. They have years of experience with DUI driver and passenger cases and will fight for your rights. Call us today for a free consultation at 844-742-7591 or contact us online. We are in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and we proudly serve clients from the surrounding areas.