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.