Does a learner's permit allow the accompanying passenger to be impaired?
November 19, 2011 3:39 PM   Subscribe

When a learner's permit requires the presence of a fully licensed driver as a passenger, is that requirement satisfied even if that passenger is too impaired to drive?

Let's say a dinner guest got too drunk to drive home. Could the host's child use their learner's permit to drive the guest home in their car?
posted by Trurl to Law & Government (15 answers total)
Not in Australia.
posted by b33j at 3:41 PM on November 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

It would totally depend on the jurdistion you are in - for example, in Ontario (Canada) (where I got my lisence) that would be illegal.

A G1 driver (the learner's permit) must be: "be accompanied by a fully licensed driver, who has at least four years driving experience, and a blood alcohol level of less than .05 (accompanying drivers 21 and under must have zero per cent), in case he/she needs to take over the wheel;"

Check with your local traffic authority. It might also be a bad idea in case the accompanying driver needs to take over for whatever reason (weather, driving conditions, etc).
posted by snowysoul at 3:50 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ohio also requires that the person accompanying has to be not-drunk. I'm going to go out on a limb and *guess* that this requirement is usually in place.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:54 PM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

The point of the permit is really, in any jurisdiction, to allow a beginning driver the ability to be on the road with a licensed driver riding with them in case something goes wrong or to help point out errors. This not only flies against the intent of the law, it also flies against common sense.

Basically, if the other driver can't take over in an emergency, then it's just wrong. IANAL and this is not legal advice.
posted by inturnaround at 4:17 PM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Another anecdote, but I remember learning in driver's ed that this was illegal in Colorado, as was having someone who was of legal age but didn't have their own license. Also, your example, how would the host's child get home after dropping the guest off?
posted by lilac girl at 4:26 PM on November 19, 2011

Also, your example, how would the host's child get home after dropping the guest off?

Maybe they take a taxi home. Maybe they spend the night there. Does it have any bearing on the question?
posted by Trurl at 4:43 PM on November 19, 2011

Not in British Columbia
posted by philip-random at 5:04 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

In Florida, you can not have any drunk in the car at all. Even if there is a sober licensed adult driver in the front passenger seat, if anyone in the car is drunk, a permit driver can not drive.
posted by Flood at 5:15 PM on November 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

I remember reading a news article from one of the local papers here in Georgia that mentioned a case where the (sober) learner was driving, but the licensed passenger was arrested for DUI. Can't seem to find it at the moment to cite or find out how it was resolved.
posted by deadmessenger at 5:24 PM on November 19, 2011

[Please do not tack on side questions, folks. Thanks! ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:17 PM on November 19, 2011

No. IANAL but my understanding is that the permit-holder would lose their permit and somebody (in this case, the host who let their kid drive the drunken guest home) might be getting a ticket. I would be really surprised if this was legal anywhere. But it's definitely not legal in IL or OH.
posted by sm1tten at 7:58 PM on November 19, 2011

Even if this isn't strictly illegal by statue and doesn't constitute a DUI for the drunk passenger, my guess would be that the authorities could charge the permitee, passenger, and/or party host with something like reckless driving, driving without a supervising licensed driver, reckless endangerment, or perhaps public intoxication. Basically, if they want to get you, they can come up with something to charge you with.

Another angle on this could apply to the jurisdictions with graduated drivers licenses, where you might have a young licensed driver (e.g. not just a permit) who couldn't legally drive at night without another adult in the car. Whether an impaired passenger would count for this purpose is an interesting question. In California, VC 12814.6 only requires that the licensee must be "accompanied and supervised by a licensed driver who is the licensee’s parent or guardian, a licensed driver who is 25 years of age or older, or a licensed or certified driving instructor." I suppose the authorities could make the argument that an intoxicated person cannot "accompany and supervise" the provisional driver. Other laws may vary.

In any case, it seems unlikely that any consequences would apply unless the driver was pulled over for some other violation or was involved in accident.
posted by zachlipton at 8:45 PM on November 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not in British Columbia.

And even if it was legal, it sounds like a bad idea. The learner has to navigate on their own and potentially deal with a drunk passenger and all that that entails.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 10:24 PM on November 19, 2011

Not in Ontario.

The entire point of them being in the car is to be more aware and experienced than you so they can guide you through events you may not expect. This advantage is lost when they're impaired.
posted by sunshinesky at 6:48 AM on November 20, 2011

In California, the licensed driver has to be able to take control at any time, so no, they can't be impaired. However, I know of at least one time where this actually happened (friend with permit was driving home her tipsy, license-having boyfriend), and the cop in question let it slide with a warning.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 7:20 AM on November 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

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