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Can a Passenger Get Arrested for a DUI in West Virginia?

Everyone understands that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to a DUI arrest.

However, many people wonder if it is possible for a passenger who allowed another person to drive drunk?

In West Virginia, the answer is yes.

In 2015, the state Supreme Court of Appeals ruled 3-2 to uphold the penalties administered against Jason F. Uhl, who was riding in the passenger seat of his Jeep Cherokee while his friend Robert Lee Morris was driving under the influence back in 2010.

After a fun night at a Charleston casino and several complimentary drinks, Uhl knew he was too intoxicated to drive. Morris then offered to drive after claiming he had only consumed six beers that night, so Uhl agreed.

When the SUV reached Interstate 64, a police car pulled the vehicle over for traveling 71 miles per hour in a 50 miles per hour zone. When the officer noticed the smell of alcohol coming from the SUV, he made Morris perform a series of field sobriety tests and a breathalyzer test, which Morris failed.

In addition, the officer found eight cans of cold beer in the vehicle. Half of the cans were open.

The high court found Uhl guilty of West Virginia law that makes it a crime for a vehicle owner to knowingly allow a drunk driver to operate the vehicle. The circumstantial evidence of the case made it seem Uhl was aware Morris had consumed alcohol and could be impaired.

So, before letting a friend drive you home after a night out, ensure he has not consumed alcohol at all throughout the evening. To avoid an arrest, the best and safest option is to have a sober friend pick you up or request a ride from a taxi or ridesharing service (i.e. Uber or Lyft).

If you have been arrested for a DUI offense in West Virginia, contact The Wagner Law Firm today at (304) 461-6000 and schedule a free consultation.

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