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Can I get charged with a Chicago DUI if I am not driving at the time of arrest

The elements of a DUI case in Chicago are specific. Drunk driving is against the law no matter where you are, but there might be additional details and situations that apply to your case you cannot find the answers to. For example, if you are the passenger in a vehicle with a drunk driver, you might want to know if you can be charged with a DUI as well. The answer is no, but that’s not the final answer without further details about your specific case.

Only the driver of a vehicle can be charged with a DUI. A passenger who is also under the influence cannot be charged with a DUI even if he or she knows the driver is also under the influence. Understanding Chicago DUI laws can be confusing, so it’s best to know what you’re dealing with in the specific incident the driver of the vehicle you’re in is pulled over and charged with a DUI.

DUI Basics

The first thing you must do is understand DUI basics in Illinois. There are several things that affect the situation. An officer cannot pull you over because he or she suspects the driver of your vehicle is drinking. The officer can only pull you over if he or she has a valid reason to do so. If the officer witnesses you breaking a law while on the road with you, he or she can pull your vehicle over.

If the officer then notices there are open containers, if there are visible drugs or the officer can smell alcohol on the breath of the person he or she stopped, the officer has the legal right to ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test. The driver of your vehicle can refuse to do this. If the driver refuses to perform a sobriety test or take a blood test, however, there are legal consequences. Chicago law follows implied consent laws. This means you imply that you consent to take a blood alcohol or breathalyzer test when asked the moment you take your license from the DMV.

If you don’t, you are automatically arrested and your license is suspended. If you are the passenger in a vehicle with a driver who refuses a sobriety test, you can only be arrested for DUI if you then get into the car and drive off on your own. You cannot be arrested if you are only in the car with another driver.

Other DUI basics include knowing the legal limit in Chicago. Drivers must have a blood-alcohol level of .08 percent or higher. That’s the legal limit. If the driver is younger than 21, the legal limit is .02 percent. If the driver has a CDL, the legal limit is .04 percent. Don’t assume you know if you are over the legal limit to drive because you only had one or two drinks. Your driver might say he or she has a high alcohol tolerance, but they might still show as being over the legal limit after only one drink.

What to Do if This Happens to You

If you are a passenger in a car and the driver is arrested for DUI, you have to remain calm. Your job is to do nothing, say nothing, and not make a scene. Don’t argue with the police officers, don’t try to take the car yourself and leave. Don’t do anything but follow orders and sit quietly. You are free to leave even if you are drunk, but you’ll have to find a ride home. Some officers might ask if you live nearby so they can take you home safely. Their concern is your safety.

You can call a rideshare service, you can call a friend or family member, or you can take a cab or walk if you are close to home. You have options, but do not get into the vehicle and attempt to drive off if you are drunk as well. Your other issue might be the vehicle. Sometimes a drunk driver’s car is taken and impounded. If you are the owner of the car and someone else was driving, you might have to face this problem head on the following day. If you’re too drunk to take the car home, it can be impounded and you must pay to have it released.

Do not drink and drive, and do not get into the car with someone who has had anything to drink. While you cannot be arrested for a DUI as the passenger of a vehicle, you can face some legal trouble if the driver tries to play off their own arrest by stating you were driving and switched seats to avoid getting into trouble. It’s too risky to get into the car with a drunk driver. Call a cab, book an Uber, or rely on someone else. Don’t put yourself in this situation, and call an attorney if you find yourself in this situation at any point.