Most people who drive drunk, don’t do so alone. Typically, they’ll have friends or family in the car with them who could have potentially stopped them from driving drunk. Maybe nothing happens this time, or maybe it does. In these cases, many passengers will admit to knowing that the driver had been drinking. Therefore, many people feel that there is a passenger responsibility to stop someone from driving drunk. As of now, there is no current law in place to place blame on the passenger— but should there be?
Passenger Responsibility for Drunk Drivers?
In many countries, there exists a “duty to rescue” law. By this, citizens who see someone in danger must help. In the least, they must contact some form of law enforcement for help. This is a legal duty that holds everyone to help in times of danger. Throughout the U.S, we have some similar laws. For instance, doctors and therapists must notify law enforcement if they believe their patient may be a danger to themselves or others.
Furthermore, some states hold bars and restaurants responsible for over-serving people. If that person causes a crash, servers, owners, and bartenders can potentially be held liable. But as it stands, no laws hold passengers responsible for letting friends drive after drinking.
Should we support it?
There are plenty of valid reasons to support the idea of passenger responsibility when it comes to DUI’s. First of all, there is the potential to reduce drinking and driving. If it became law to hold your friends accountable, many drunk drivers might never get behind the wheel. In many situations, people are not sober enough to have sound judgment, therefore— should it be someone else’s job to do that for you?
Should we oppose this?
There are also plenty of reasons why this idea of passenger responsibility may not work. In reality, the friends who decide to ride with you have probably been drinking as well. Therefore, they will likely not be sober enough to discern your condition and make the right choice. In many cases, the person driving may be the chosen designated driver. But, maybe they decided to drink, despite knowing that they will need to get everyone home safely. Furthermore, the passengers may not be able to convince that person not drive. When people become intoxicated, they often have more confidence, and less sound judgement. Therefore, even if you oppose their driving— they might not listen.
The bottom line…
Whether it is a law or not, you should not let friends drink and drive. If you have reason to believe someone should not be driving for any reason, and you cannot convince them otherwise, you must make the choice to not get in the car. Furthermore, if you try to stop them but they still insist on driving, you have a responsibility to other drivers to notify the police. Paying for a DUI is much better than harming themselves or someone else on the road. As passengers you are in a unique position… one that may force you to take some responsibility for getting home safely. So, make the right call, keep your friends safe, and if you can’t convince them— take an Uber.