Can You Really Be Charged with DUI When You are Not Driving Your Car?

In Tennessee, the short answer is yes. Let’s say, for example, you are riding as a passenger in your car while someone else is driving, and that person has had too much to drink. If the police pull the car over because the driver has been swerving or driving erratically, and they charge the driver with a DUI, the officer can also charge you with a DUI. Even if you have not had a drop to drink, if you gave consent to your friend who was drunk to drive your car the police can charge you with DUI. Even if you had not been present in the car, the officer can still charge you with a DUI under Tennessee law.

DUI by consent, or DUI by proxy, means that if you knowingly consented to your vehicle being operated by someone who was intoxicated at the time. Under the law, you face the same penalties as the person who was operating the vehicle at the time of the traffic stop.

What if you realize that you’ve had a bit more to drink than you had planned to, so you walk out to your car with the intention of taking a nap to sleep it off? But then you hear a knock on your window and you see the glare of the police officer’s flashlight, and you get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Yes, you can be charged with DUI if you are just sitting in your car if you are intoxicated beyond the legal limit. If the officer can determine that you are in physical control of the car while intoxicated, you can be arrested and charged with DUI.

In Tennessee, rather than saying, “don’t drink and drive.” they should warn people, “don’t drink and get into your car.” It is illegal to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and on a street, alley, or any public premises that is frequented by the general public with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more according to Tennessee law.

Facing DUI charges – especially when you weren’t even behind the wheel – can be confusing and frustrating. You can talk to a Franklin DUI attorney who has experience handling all kinds of DUI cases. You have rights under the law, and we are here to listen to the facts of your case and offer you sound, legal counsel at this challenging time in your life.