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Driver Vs. Passenger OUI

One might think that it is only the driver who needs to worry about arrest if the police pull over the vehicle on suspicion of operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This is not true in every case, and sometimes the passenger may be arrested along with or instead of the driver. Here are a few scenarios that may apply to you or your situation:

1. Both Arrested

If the situation calls for it, sometimes both driver and passenger may be arrested for OUI, although this does not happen as often. Normally, for the passenger to be arrested, he or she must have given the officer some probable cause. They could also be arrested if they have outstanding warrants.\n\nWhen driver and passenger are both arrested, or one is not arrested but considered too impaired to drive, the vehicle could be impounded or towed. Most Maine laws regarding vehicle impoundment mention that the driver must have a specific number of OUI convictions before the vehicle may be impounded.

2. Driver Arrested Only

This situation is perhaps the most common, since the officer rarely has a reason to arrest the passenger and driver together. The police officer cannot tell that a person is over the legal BAC, blood alcohol content, limit without first stopping them, and they usually must have a reason to stop a person outside of suspicion alone. Even without elevated BAC, evidence of impairment, such as excessive speeding, can lead to the driver's arrest.

Keep in mind that if the driver is arrested, and the passenger is too impaired to drive, he or she may be forced to find a different way home. They may get a free ride in a squad car, or could be given the chance to call a taxi, friend, family member, or acquaintance for assistance.

3. Passenger Arrested Only

There has to be a very good reason for only the passenger to be arrested, and it is also rare for the passenger to be arrested with the driver. Normally, the presence of some unique circumstances, such as violation of a law, ordinance, or statute, must occur. Inappropriate behavior toward the officer, including threats or attempted violence, can lead to an arrest. If you step out of the vehicle without being asked to do so, you could be arrested for public intoxication if you are over the legal limit or exhibiting signs of impairment.

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