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What Is a Violation of Penal Code 647?


Interviewer: What about if I’m a passenger and my friend is driving, and I guess it matters whether or not I know he or she intoxicated. If we are pulled over and the police do a DUI investigation, will the police then try to charge me with DUI as well, as a passenger? What can they do to me?

 Do Intoxicated Passengers in a Car Face Charges?

Aaron: No. They can’t get you as a passenger for a DUI unless they believe that you grabbed the wheel and caused an accident or were trying to avoid a deer, or something like that and the car crashed. If you had control of the car from the passenger seat, they can charge you. What they usually get passengers for is Penal Code 647 violation.

Interviewer: What is that?

Aaron: That is basically being charged as being “drunk in public” You can be getting a ride home as a passenger, and you can have however much alcohol you have in your system and something happens, whether the driver is DUI or not, if there’s an accident and the police see that you have alcohol in your system, they can arrest you for “drunk in public.” This is true even though you were in a car, going home, being responsible, not out stumbling around in public, they can still charge you for it, and they do all the time. They try to at least.

You Can Be Charged with Drunk in Public Even if You Are on Private Property, Such as your Own Home

Interviewer: How about if you’re on private property? Let’s say you’re in private property, in your driveway or just somewhere where you’re not in the street. Are the police allowed to come onto private property and initiate a DUI investigation?

Your Best Defense: Avoid Making Incriminating Statements to the Police

Aaron: Absolutely, in most cases, and they do. If you think about it, you hear this the time, or at least I do, being a DUI lawyer. More frequently than you would image, someone pulled into their driveway and police officers came up on them or had been following them and arrested them there.

Or they pulled into the driveway, went inside, and the cops came and knocked on the door. In those situations, they have to be able to prove that you were driving, so the best thing in those situations is to not make statements to incriminate yourself, such as saying that you were actually driving.

The Police Do Need to Prove That You Were Incapacitated at the Time You Were Driving

Usually, in those situations, someone has actually called your license plate in. If they believe that you were driving the car, they put together all the circumstantial evidence. If you answer the door with a drink in your hand and they determine that you were driving, but if you have that drink in your hand and tell them that you just had a big drink after you got home, that can actually be a defense to DUI.

This is because if they take your breath test or do a blood test, they’ve got to be able to prove that at the time of driving you were at or over the limit. So, if you’ve been drinking since you got to your destination, it will be much more difficult for them to prove that you were under the influence or at or over a 0.08 blood alcohol level at the time of driving.

By Aaron Bortel

Aaron Bortel

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