Can I Be Prosecuted for Allowing My Friend to Drive Drunk?

As a night out on the town comes to a close and friends begin to call rideshares or climb into their own vehicles, is it your responsibility to gauge their ability to drive? In Florida and many other states, the answer is both yes and no. 

If you are easily able to identify your friend is past the legal drinking limit and is getting behind the wheel of their vehicle, you are obligated to stop them. Of course, at the end of the day, you cannot force anyone to do anything. If they persist or drive off without you being able to prevent them, it’s vital you call local law enforcement immediately. If you are intoxicated or don’t have reason to believe your friend is unlawfully so, then you cannot be held responsible for their actions. If you believe you are unfairly prosecuted, reach out to a criminal defense attorney at Fighter Law as soon as possible. 

What Is Culpable Negligence? 

When you are able to identify that your friend is too drunk to drive but you still allow them to do so, this is legally identified as culpable negligence. The key word in the definition of culpable negligence is “willingness.” If you willingly let your friend drive while intoxicated and they cause harm to themselves or others, the law can hold you accountable. The idea behind culpable negligence is that if you had prevented them from operating a motor vehicle, then the injuries and accident would have never occurred. 

Being charged with culpable negligence for a DUI is not extremely common and takes specific and direct actions to prove. Examples directly relating to a DUI can include: 

  • Directly handing your friend the keys to your car or theirs
  • Verbally encouraging a noticeably intoxicated friend to operate a motor vehicle
  • Actively providing alcohol or illegal substances to someone who is about to get behind the wheel or is already behind the wheel of a car

If you suspect your friend may be about to drive drunk or is already driving drunk, the only step you can actively take to ensure their safety is to report it to local law enforcement. 

What Criminal Charges Might You Face For Allowing Your Friend to Drive Drunk? 

Florida Statutes 784.05 identifies that those who act through culpable negligence be charged with a misdemeanor of the second degree. Misdemeanors of the second degree are punishable in the Sunshine State with the following: 

  • Jail time of up to two months
  • A fine of up to $500
  • Possibility of license suspension

In situations where you are also in the car and intoxicated, you run the risk of additional charges and possibly even a DUI. 

Facing Criminal Charges for Culpable Negligence? Let Us Fight for Your Rights

Being wrongfully charged for someone else’s negligent actions can feel discouraging and overwhelming. However, hiring an aggressive and compassionate attorney through Fighter Law can help you protect your rights throughout the legal process. Our board-certified lawyers are ready to listen to your case and help construct a defense from there. We will work hard to establish that your friend’s DUI and reckless decisions were not in any way related to your actions and that had you known, there was nothing you could have done to prevent their behavior. 

With over a decade of criminal defense experience to offer, let us get to work fighting for your rights today. For a free consultation, please give our office a call at (407) 344-4837 or fill out our contact form


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