California law requires that the defendant in a DUI case must be person
that was actually driving the vehicle. Passenger in vehicles that are
stopped for DUI cannot be charged with drunk driving, but in the course
of the DUI may be charged with "drunk in public." An experienced
Bakersfield DUI defense attorney knows that oftentimes that charge can
be successfully fought as the prosecutor must prove the passenger was
in a public place and unable to care for their own safety and that of
others as well.
At checkpoints, officers must have
probable cause to suspect the passenger has committed a crime before investigating the
passenger. The passenger may be screened for public drunkenness, but if
the passenger is in the car the entire time, the charge can be fought.
Passengers do not have to submit to a chemical test under the implied
consent laws because they are not the driver of the vehicle. It is not
illegal to be a passenger under the influence of alcohol in a vehicle.
In fact, designateed drivers for the intoxicated are heavily encouraged
by law enforcement.