Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and driving while intoxicated (DWI) are very serious crimes throughout the nation. Las Vegas, Nevada, a city famous for its vices, has a legal blood alcohol content level of 0.08%, 0.04% for commercial drivers, and 0.02% for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21. Any driver who breaks this law will receive a DUI and suffer the legal ramifications that come with this charge. Now, Nevada citizens also have to worry about Las Vegas passenger liability, which may obligate friends and bystanders to prevent someone drunk from getting behind the wheel. This liability leaves many people confused as to what their responsibilities are as a passenger and bystander, and what repercussions they may face for failing to take action to prevent others from driving drunk.
Civil Duties of Friends and Strangers
There have recently been cases of police arresting people for failing to take action when they knew or reasonably should have known someone was about to drive drunk. In Connecticut, the police arrested two 17-year-old boys on the grounds that they knew their friend was too drunk to drive when she got behind the wheel and fatally crashed her SUV. The boys failed to prevent their friend from driving drunk and thus broke their civil duty to take action.
Friends and strangers alike have the civil duty to prevent another person from driving drunk if they have the opportunity and ability to do so. When bystanders’ inactions lead to an accident, there is Las Vegas passenger liability as well as insurance coverages that go along with this failure to act. Nevada already has a dram shop law, or a third party liability law, that makes someone selling or serving alcohol to someone else to the point of intoxication liable for injuries. Dram shop laws touch on the idea of personal responsibility, but do not reach the extent of arresting people for failure to take action.
There are currently no laws that precisely make it illegal to not take action to prevent someone from driving drunk. However, there are laws that prevent negligence. In civil cases of negligence, the victim or the victim’s family must prove the defendant had a duty to the victim, breached this duty, and that this breach caused damages. Based on these elements, it’s easy to see how there may be a case of negligence if someone knew a friend or stranger was drunk and this person did nothing to stop the intoxicated individual from driving, an inaction that in turn resulted in a DUI accident.
Responsibilities of Passengers of a DUI Driver
When a police officer pulls someone over for DUI in Nevada, it’s not just for the driver’s safety – it’s for the safety of the vehicle’s passengers and other people on the roadway. If you’re a passenger in a vehicle, drunk or sober, and you know the driver is too drunk to be operating a vehicle, you can face charges just like the driver.
As a passenger in the car with a drunk driver, the law assumes you gave your consent to the driver to get behind the wheel in an inappropriate condition. If you are an adult passenger in the car, you may have to submit a breath and blood test, receive a warning, pay a fine, or even face charges.
The best way to protect yourself from facing a DUI or negligence charge in Nevada is to arrange for a ride home via Uber, Lyft, or a taxi. Always report drunk drivers you see on the road, and do your best to prevent a friend or stranger from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Being a Good Samaritan is more than just the right thing to do – it’s the law.