Party On, America

Ah, Friday, July 5th … some of us are trying to stay awake at our desks, recuperating from yesterday’s celebrations, others are just taking a breather before continuing their festivities tonight. (Gotta love a holiday that falls close to the weekend!) For those that drink alcohol as part of those festivities, please drink responsibly; no one wants to see your life or someone else’s life forever changed by a bad choice to get behind the wheel when you’ve had too much to drink.

However, keep in mind that our State’s DUI laws can penalize you not just for being behind the wheel yourself, but also for allowing someone to use your vehicle when that person is over the limit. DUI by consent, or DUI by proxy, can be charged when you allow your car to be driven by an intoxicated person. Generally, DUI by consent is punished as a standard DUI offense, meaning that the owner of the car will be subject to the same criminal consequences for DUI as the actual drunk driver.

DUI by consent often happens when the car’s owner is a passenger in his own car, and the driver is stopped, and later charged, with intoxicated driving. However, every case is different, and it’s possible that the car’s owner could be charged with DUI by consent even if not in his car at the time that the driver is charged with drunk driving.

It seems unfair that you can be punished for someone else’s crime, but the possibility exists. Be smart in all the decisions you make this holiday — not just to refrain from driving drunk yourself, but also allowing others to use your car if you have any reason to question their sobriety. If in doubt about someone’s ability to safely and legally operate your car, err on the side of caution and don’t give him your keys. Don’t let someone else’s bad choice to drink and drive drag you down with him.


Christina S. Stanford