Skip to Content

Can You Be an Accomplice to DUI?


Is it possible to be an accomplice to drunk driving — that is, to be convicted of “aiding and abetting” a person who was driving under the influence of alcohol?

In one case in Maine, two men were drinking together in a bar.  When they left, the owner of the car had his friend drive since the friend was less intoxicated.  The two were stopped by the police, and the owner/passenger was taken to a police station — where he refused to take a breath test because he said he had not been driving.  He was subsequently charged with operating or attempting to operate a motor vehicle under the influence.  At trial, the jury found him guilty as both a principal and an accomplice. 

On appeal, the court held that the accomplice statute applied to drunk driving offenses, and that the evidence was sufficient for a jury to find both the intent and the solicitation necessary for accomplice liability.  The defendant, said the court, had the specific intent to enlist his accomplice/friend in driving under the influence.  State v. Stratton, 591 A.2d 246 (Me. 1991). 

How far can this go?  Can you be guilty of letting a friend drive while intoxicated? The majority rule in American courts today is that any passenger, including the owner, can be held criminally liable as an aider/abettor in the commission of the offense of DUI.  Nor is there any requirement that the accomplice be a passenger or owner of the vehicle.  In Guzman v. State, 586 S.E.2d 59 (Ga. App. 2003), for example, the defendant was convicted of two counts of vehicular homicide when he allowed a 14-year-old to drive his bother and a friend in Guzman’s vehicle after having given beer to the boys.  Mr. Guzman’s criminal intent was inferred by his conduct in giving the driver alcohol and the car keys, then standing silently by as the 14-year-old got behind the wheel and drive away.

DUI Accomplice FAQ

What is an accomplice to DUI?

Being an accomplice to DUI means knowingly aiding, abetting, or encouraging someone to commit a DUI offense. This can include actions such as providing alcohol to an intoxicated person who then drives.

What are the potential consequences of being an accomplice to DUI?

As an accomplice to DUI, you could face criminal charges, fines, and potential imprisonment if convicted. Additionally, you may be held liable for any damages or injuries resulting from the DUI incident.

How can I defend against accomplice to DUI charges?
Defenses against accomplice to DUI charges may include lack of knowledge or intent to aid in the DUI offense, coercion or duress, or lack of sufficient evidence linking you to the DUI incident. Consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney to explore your legal options.
Should I seek legal representation if accused of being an accomplice to DUI?

Yes, it's essential to seek legal representation if you're accused of being an accomplice to DUI. A skilled DUI defense attorney can assess your case, build a strong defense strategy, and advocate on your behalf to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome.

Query:  Assuming the validity of an accomplice theory, could not the accomplice’s own intoxication degate the specific intent required to be an accomplice?

The post Can You Be an Accomplice to DUI? appeared first on Law Offices of Taylor and Taylor - DUI Central.

Share To: