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Can a Passenger Get a DUI in Illinois?


In order to get a DUI in Illinois, you must be driving or have physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .08 percent or under the influence of alcohol/drugs. Since passengers are never in physical control of a vehicle, they cannot be charged with a DUI. 

However, if a passenger controls the steering wheel – at any point during the drive – or if a police officer believes a passenger switched positions with an intoxicated motorist in order to avoid arrest, the passenger could be charged with a DUI. 

Furthermore, if the vehicle you are riding in is involved in a car accident and you and the driver are already standing outside of the car when the police arrive, law enforcement officials may wonder whether you or the other person was driving at the time of the accident. 

Even if you are not charged with a DUI for being a passenger in a vehicle, you could still face other criminal charges, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. For example, if a passenger was either in possession or consuming an alcoholic beverage (with the seal broken), then he/she could face criminal charges under Illinois’ open container laws. 

If a person who is at least 21 years old violates the state’s open container law, he/she faces a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent offense will result in license suspension for up to one year. 

If a person under 21 violates the state’s open container law, he/she will face license suspension. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by mandatory license revocation. 

When it comes to medical marijuana, it is against the law for a driver or passenger to use cannabis in the vehicle. Possession is legal as long as the medical marijuana container is sealed. 

A driver or passenger who uses or possesses an open container of medical marijuana, he/she will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum jail term of one year and a fine of up to $2,500. In addition, an offender could have his/her medical marijuana card revoked for up to two years. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI in Chicago, contact the Law Office of Steven Fine today at (312) 436-0638 for a free consultation.