Can A Passenger Be Arrested for DUI in New Jersey?

Posted February 14th, 2018 by .

Categories: Criminal Defense.

DUI in New Jersey CarboneYou are probably aware that New Jersey has a rather unforgiving approach when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol. According to New Jersey law, any driver operating a motor vehicle found with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher can be charged with drunk driving. The penalties, which are mandatory, can be severe:

  • License loss or suspension
  • Prison time
  • Community service
  • Heavy fines
  • Ignition lock systems

All of these penalties are dependent on your BAC level and whether it’s your first, second, or third (and so on) DUI conviction. Clearly, this is all bad news for the driver, but what if you are a passenger in the car of the person who was arrested for DUI? And, what if you were under the influence of alcohol too?

Many people don’t realize that N.J.S.A. 39:4-50(a) not only contains language about the driver of a motor vehicle who has been drinking alcohol but also language involving a passenger who is intoxicated:

“…permits another person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotic, hallucinogenic or habit-producing drug to operate a motor vehicle owned by him or in his custody or control or permits another to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood shall be subject [to punishment].”

To sum up that snippet of New Jersey law; DUI charges can be made against anyone who allows someone to operate a motor vehicle under the influence. So, if you’re the passenger in a vehicle with an intoxicated driver, you can be found at fault too; but only if you’re also under the influence and/or found to have knowledge of the offense.

The penalties for allowing an intoxicated person to drive are the same as the penalties for a DUI conviction, especially if the car that is being driven is your’ s. But in some cases, a passenger (who is not under the influence) can be a beneficial witness in a DUI case. This is because they might have observed the driver’s field sobriety tests or driving behaviors, and their testimony might differ and could outweigh the arresting officer’s report of the incident.

Regardless of the situation, the Law Offices of Antony Carbone are on your side. We will make every effort to get your case dismissed or key evidence excluded, including hiring experts who can challenge the Breathalyzer results. Don’t wait, contact us today.


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