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In a DUI case, can the drunk passenger of a drunk driver be considered an accomplice or in some way considered responsible?

San Mateo, CA |

Does it really not make a difference that the passenger, who ended up getting hurt, knew that his driver had been drinking with him and got in the car knowingly (as knowingly as a drunk person can)? Is the passenger also being drunk any help to the defendant's case?

Attorney Answers 8

  1. No and no.

    The information contained in this answer does constitute legal advice nor does it constitute any warranties of any kind. Furthermore, the information provided does not in any way form a confidential attorney-client relationship and you are encouraged to seek legal counsel before relying on any portion of the information conveyed to you.

  2. No to both questions.

  3. A drunk passenger cannot be considered an accomplice to a criminal DUI matter even if he knew that the driver had been drinking. It does not help the defendant's criminal case that the passenger was drunk but it hurts the defendant's case if there is an injury to any passenger in the car. The defendant can get charged with a DUI with injury. In California, DUI with injury charges can be misdemeanors or felonies. The penalties are greater for DUI with injury charges. You can contact us for a free phone consultation regarding the full range of charges that a defendant can face under these circumstances.

    This answer does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

  4. In other States (for example Oregon) passengers are being charged as an accomplice to the DUI offense. In California this does not occur.

  5. In other States (for example Oregon) passengers are being charged as an accomplice to the DUI offense. In California this does not occur.

  6. The drunk passenger is not an accomplice to your DUI, even if the passenger knew you were drunk. However, the passenger could possibly be arrested for drunk in public.

  7. An intoxicated passenger cannot be considered an accomplice to the crime of driving under the influence. in the state of California. However, if they provided the alcohol to the driver and the driver was underage, the passenger will likely face the charge of providing alcohol to a minor.

  8. It makes absolutely no difference if the passenger was drunk and/or knew that the driver was drunk. I have had similar cases where the passenger is injured ... and despite his/her intoxication, is considered a victim of the DUI. If the injuries to the passenger were serious, they can even be the basis for a GBI (great bodily injury) enhancement --- which adds three years to the base exposure and converts felony DUI into a strike offense.

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