Picking a designated driver is standard practice to drink and get home safe. Before the days of Lyft and Uber, it was often the only way to ensure that you got home safely. So, how does the law treat designated drivers? Are they subject to stricter rules? If so, what rules? This post will go over the treatment of designated drivers and how it might affect you.
A typical designated driver is a friend or sibling who is under age. So, what happens if you are under 21 or even under 18, and driving drunk friends home? For the most part, you are fine. The law does not punish underage drivers for taking home their drunk friends or family. The law is trickier if some of the drunk people are also underage. It depends on the situation.
What if you’re under 16, meaning you’re too young to drive without a chaperon? These laws are more complicated. If you are in a state that requires a chaperon adult, like Maryland, then an inebriated person does not count as a “reasonable adult.” Your punishment is probably a simple ticket, but it depends on the situation.
Finally, what happens if your passengers are drinking? These laws are referred to as “open container laws.” Most states have a version of the open container law which prohibits consumption of alcohol in public, including in cars. The driver could be subjected to a traffic violation if there is an open container in her vehicle.
If you are facing charges of drunken driving, you may want to contact a lawyer. Mounting an early and vigorous DWI defense is critical to ensuring that you don’t cede valuable time to the prosecutor. You probably expect to be treated lightly, especially if it was your first offense, but it is important to remember that sentencing is on a spectrum. The judge is advised by the sentencing guidelines but not controlled. The judge can always decide to make an example of you which is why a lawyer is critical to help ensure that you are treated fairly by the court and prosecutors.