What Do I Do If I’m a Passenger in a Connecticut DUI Arrest?

Family members, friends, colleagues, and other acquaintances are affected in various ways when someone that they know receives a DUI. This is particularly the case if you are in the vehicle with someone when they get a DUI. What will happen to you in this situation? Will you be charged with a crime?

Evaluating Intoxication

If the car that you are a passenger in is pulled over and the police officer suspects the driver of being intoxicated, the officer will also evaluate your level of intoxication. If the officer determines that you are also under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you might be asked to take a field sobriety test or a blood/breath/chemical test. You could be arrested if you fail one of these tests. You will be asked to call a sober friend to pick you up. If you cannot get in touch with someone who can safely drive you home, you might have to spend the night in jail. Or, a police officer might drive you home. If a tow truck is called, you can get a ride from the tow truck.

When You Are Sober

If an officer determines that you are sober, the police officer will then question you. They will ask why you did not drive, since your friend is not in a state to drive. You will have to prove to the police officer why you could not drive. Some valid excuses include:

  • Not having a license to drive.
  • Having some kind of injury or medical condition that prevents you from driving.
  • Restrictions on your license.

For example, if you are under the age of eighteen, you will not be able to drive after 11 o’clock p.m. If you are pulled over at 2 o’clock in the morning, this driving restriction might explain why you did not take the wheel.

When You Don’t Have an Excuse

If you don’t have a legitimate reason not to be driving, you could be charged with reckless endangerment and arrested. This is because by failing to drive, you put yourself and others at risk. However, it is important to know that a police officer is not obligated to arrest you in this situation. The officer will use their discretion and judgment when determining if you should be charged and arrested.

If you are a passenger in a car pulled over by the police, and the driver is charged with driving under the influence, you could face minor charges such as public intoxication or reckless endangerment. While these are minor crimes that are oftentimes reduced in court or dropped altogether, you should still consult a lawyer to determine your best course of action.


My name is Teresa, and I am a DUI lawyer, but that is only part of who I am. I have been practicing law in Connecticut since 2006.


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