Avoiding a DUI Charge: Sober Passengers That Have Permits

It seems that most drivers have heard something about a young teenager jumping into the driver’s seat to help a drunk driver avoid a DUI charge. So is this legal? That’s a good question and in many states, it is not. In Indiana, if they have a learner’s permit, it should not be a problem.  If they do not have a learner’s permit,  there is a potential defense of necessity for an unlicensed driver to take control of the vehicle. The prosecutor is not required to waive the license requirement for a younger driver to take the wheel, but there may be instances where the prosecutor does not charge the child.  The parent may still face charges of some sort. The trouble is that many people take the chance and put young drivers behind the wheel.  Never change drivers while the vehicle is in motion.

Another struggle is that the passengers may not know that they can or should take over for the person driving. Drivers may think that they are safe and okay to drive when they are not. For many people, it’s unclear to them that there are ways to put a safer driver or a sober driver behind the wheel. There’s also the thought process that the arguments that happen while someone is driving can certainly lead to dangerous driving behavior. The dangers of arguing behind the wheel about who should be driving are a distraction and may lead to a DUI. Arrest.

Underage Driver Save the Day – Urban Legend or Reasonable Action?

The urban legend goes that a parent and an unlicensed child attended a party. The parent drinks too much and leaves to drive home. During the drive home, the parent realizes that this was a bad idea. Then they pull over and the young teen, with no driving experience, gets them both safely home.

While in theory, this sounds like a great story, it rarely works out that way. Also, that adult is putting a completely inexperienced driver behind the wheel which is also extremely dangerous. There might be some solid logic here, the timid and inexperienced driver, in many cases, maybe safer than the drunk driver.

The question to be considered is whether it is legal? Is it something that adult drivers should consider? On the big picture aspect, no this is not legal and it’s not something that any adult should rely on to escape a DUI. When someone receives their permit the adult in the vehicle agrees to an implied legal requirement that they would oversee that new driver. Not that these inexperienced drivers should take responsibility for themselves and the person who felt unsafe driving.

Identifying Unsafe Passage

Many adults have left a bar, pub, or even a house party feeling like they were okay to drive. But a few streets later they realize that they’re having problems judging distance, and speed. That is a common occurrence for drivers who may have over-consumed alcohol. They are aware enough to identify that they shouldn’t be driving and understand that although they felt fine a few minutes ago, they’re not safe to drive.

What are these adults supposed to do if they shouldn’t let the permitted driver take over? Pullover and wait till they’re sober? That could take hours, and in that time, they could get arrested for being drunk in public and still face the potential of being arrested for DUI. Should they abandon their vehicle and walk home? That’s probably equally dangerous and many drunk pedestrians are victims of accidents.  Many roads in Indiana do not have sidewalks and there could be issues for the child walking any distance.

In these situations, you should:

  • Pullover in a well-lit area.
  • Remove the keys from the ignition and place them somewhere safe such as your pockets, purse, or console.
  • Call a rideshare service, or a friend to come and pick you and your passenger up.
  • Keep the vehicle off.
  • When your ride shows up, lock the car, and proceed home.

Some people leave a note on the windshield that the car will be picked up in the morning.  That doesn’t guarantee that it won’t get towed if you are parked on private property or on the roadside, not in a specified parking space.

Defenses with a DUI Defense Attorney in Indiana


There are a great many ways to ensure that you have a strong defense for a DUI charge. If you did choose to let someone else drive or pulled over with the intent of changing drivers, then you’re a step ahead of most. Most drivers experience a DUI as part of a checkpoint or for suspicious activity. Now if you were pulled over and changing drivers you may have some trouble explaining to the officer that you know it was unsafe and took corrective action.

There’s also the element of how the officer handled the issue. If they did not follow the proper procedure to make them stop and question you, or if they did not properly administer field sobriety tests, you may have a strong defense against the charge. The trouble is that most drivers aren’t aware of the multitude of ways that you can fight a DUI charge. At Rathburn Law Office we provide clear instruction with the goal of fighting the DUI charge to obtain the best possible resolution with minimum consequences.


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With over 25 years of experience, Rathburn Law is your ideal choice. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge, Reach out to us today!