Distinguished Knoxville Attorneys
Complimentary Case Evaluations
Back to Top

Can a Passenger Be Charged with a DUI in TN?

If a driver’s blood alcohol content is at least .08 percent or under the influence of drugs, he/she can be charged with a DUI in Tennessee. However, did you know that it is possible for a passenger to face DUI charges as well? 

According to Tennessee’s “DUI by consent” law, any passengers who have agreed to allow an impaired person to drive will be charged with a DUI. Additionally, if an owner of a vehicle gives the keys to an intoxicated person who is then charged with a DUI, the owner can also be charged with a DUI, even though he/she is not in the vehicle at the time of the offense. 

DUI by consent carries the same penalties as a standard DUI. A conviction is punishable by a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 48 hours with a maximum sentence of 11 months and 29 days, a fine of up to $350, driver’s license suspension for one year, and other penalties. 

The following are several other ways a passenger can be charged with a DUI in Tennessee: 

  • A passenger grabs the steering wheel – Even if someone else is in the driver’s seat, a passenger who reaches over to try the maintain proper lane position or causes the driver to lose control of the wheel can also face DUI charges for technically operating the vehicle. 

  • A driver switches places with a passenger – If a person was really the driver and the person in the driver’s seat is really the passenger, then both parties will be charged with a DUI. 

  • The police officer is uncertain – If a law enforcement official is not sure who was driving, they can charge everyone with a DUI. For example, the police arrive at the scene of a car accident and see a driver and passenger outside of the vehicle. If both parties are too drunk to cooperate with the investigation, the officer may charge the driver and passenger with a DUI since he did not see the car in motion. 

If you have been arrested for a DUI in Knoxville, TN, call Eldridge and Cravens, PC at (865) 544-2010 or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free consultation. Our legal team has more than five decades of combined trial-tested experience!