You already know what happens to the driver in a DUI or DWI traffic stop. But few people know exactly what happens to the passenger.
The truth is a variety of things can happen to the passenger, depending on how the stop goes.
Even if you’re the passenger in the car you may not drink alcohol, thanks to New York’s open container law. Under the open container law, consumption or possession of an open container of alcohol is prohibited in any public place or in vehicles on public roadways.
If the police find you with an open container in the car you can be arrested on this charge alone.
The police can subject you to field sobriety tests just like the driver. You can be arrested for being drunk in public even if you don’t have an open container in the car.
You can also be arrested for a DUI if the police officer wasn’t sure who was driving, or if you reached over and tried to steady the wheel.
The officer has a great deal of discretion here. Oten they’ll direct you to call a friend or a ride share and get them to take you home.
In most cases you should not be arrested. There are a lot of reasons why a person might get into a car with a drunk driver behind the wheel, and it’s not necessarily your responsibility to judge the driver’s BAC. Sometimes the police will ask you why you didn’t offer to drive, and depending on the answer you could be charged with reckless endangerment.
Sometimes the police will allow you to drive the vehicle home. Sometimes they will impound the vehicle and direct you to get a ride home.
Yet arrest is possible. It’s always possible in any encounter with the police, even if you’ve done nothing wrong.
You do not necessarily have to identify yourself to a police officer or to provide identification unless you are suspected of a crime. You can ask if you are suspected of a crime. If so you can identify yourself, but then exercise your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. You do not have to give any information about your immigration status.
You should not consent to a search of yourself, your car, or your person. Police don’t need a warrant to do so, but registering your lack of consent can help you later.
You also have the right to politely ask the police officer if you are free to go. If they say yes, get yourself to a safe place and call a ride. Interact with the police as little as possible.
If you or a loved one have been arrested for any reason, you need help right away. Contact our office to get an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side.
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