Most people think you can only be charged with impaired driving if you’re physically behind the wheel of a vehicle, but that’s actually not true. One passenger in Newfoundland just found out the hard way that you could be charged with impaired driving, even if you’re not driving the vehicle.
When Newfoundland police pulled over a vehicle at 3 am, they might have been expecting to find a drunk driver behind the wheel. What they did find was a sober driver, but that sober driver only had a Class 5 learner’s permit. In order to drive, the person with the learner’s permit needs to have a fully licensed driver sitting beside them, and that driver is the one considered to be in care and control of the vehicle if someone with a learner’s permit is driving.
In this case, the passenger in care and control of the vehicle was drunk, and because of that the passenger was charged with impaired driving, given a driving suspension, and a summons to appear in court. If he’s convicted of impaired driving in Newfoundland, he’ll face up to a one-year driver’s license suspension, a minimum of $600 fine, and he’ll have to attend an alcohol education program. The only light at the end of the tunnel is the possibility of an ignition interlock device. If he enrolls in the ignition interlock program, he could drive during his period of license suspension.
The shoe could have been on the other foot if the driver was enrolled in the Graduated Drivers License program and he was stopped for drinking and driving. In that case, if the driver had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.00, he or she would receive a 2-month driver’s license suspension.
If you didn’t know about the laws regarding care and control, there’s never been a better time to brush up by taking a look at this post on ignition interlock and DWI laws.