Valentine’s Day was not a good day for 23-year old Jordyn Beebe. Not only was it Valentine’s Day, but it was also her birthday. On a day that should otherwise be joyous, her attorney appeared in a San Francisco courthouse to enter a plea of not guilty to charges of driving under the influence, reckless driving, driving without a license, and failure to provide proof of insurance.
The interesting thing about Beebe’s charges, which require her to be the driver of the vehicle, is that she was in the passenger’s seat during the incident.
According to the San Francisco Examiner, on January 26, Beebe and her boyfriend, who was driving a 1984 BMW, had gotten into an argument about his driving ability. The boyfriend then took his hands off of the steering wheel and told Beebe, “You Drive.” Beebe, who was intoxicated, grabbed the wheel and steered the vehicle into a curb causing it to flip over.
Her charges prompted questions as to whether someone can be charged with a DUI even if they were not the actual driver of the vehicle.
California law requires that, in order to be charged with a DUI, the defendant must drive the vehicle. This means that there must be evidence of the defendant’s volitional movement of a vehicle. There is no requirement that the “driver” of the vehicle be in the driver’s seat. Therefore, under California law, the prosecutor only needs to prove that Beebe deliberately moved the vehicle, even slightly, in order for her to be considered a “driver” of the vehicle.
In one last twist of the knife, Beebe’s boyfriend was not charged or cited in connection with the accident.