Hypothetical DWI question

Ok I swear this is just a hypothetical question based on a situation related to me by a friend about someome he knows

Person A goes to holiday party from work and procedes to get plastared

Person B sees this person is in no shape to drive and calls a cab for person A

When the cab arrives person B instructs driver to take Person A home, and pays for the cab ride

Person A conviences the cab driver not to take Person A home, but to take person A to where Person A’s car is.

Person A procedes to drive home while impared

Person A pulls to the side of the road because Person A realizes that Person A is not able to drive and goes to sleep

Police pull up, see Person A sleeping, makes Person A take a breath test, and sees Person A’s BAC is over the limit so they cite Person A for DWI along with some other things


Is the Cab driver responsible for any of this since he was hired by Person B to take Person A from point A to B and paid for that trip but instead took Person A to point C which is not what he was hired to do?

Because this is a Hypothetical question, the state it occured in does not matter so please tell me about the law in whatever state you are in.

I think the real question should be: Why was he cited for a DWI when Person A is just sleeping in the car? I mean, the police don’t know that he drove to where ever he’s sleeping. Ya know?

Any way.

Since this is Hypothetical, I don’t believe it would happen.

Then again if it did, the cabbie would just say that once Person A gets in the cab, it’s Person A’s cab. Regardless of who paid.

This thread discusseda similar case.

You are imputing a custodial duty on the cab driver to follow the host’s instructions regardless of the drunk passengers preference about destination. I don’t think this duty exists and it it did it would border on kidnapping. What is the driver supposed to do? Ignore the destination wishes of a potentially dangerous and agitated drunk or drop him off where he desires? It is honestly amazing the lengths people will go to lay off responsibility for bad or foolish behavior on someone or something else.
Here is page with an email link that could probably provide concrete information.


This portion at least has been tested in court while I was living in New Mexico. The police did cite the person and it was upheld. Their contention was that he clearly drove the car and thus would have been driving while drunk since he was still drunk when they found him. It didn’t help his case that he didn’t deny that he had been driving when drunk only that when the police found him, he was merely sleeping.

As to the rest, I don’t know. Here in Colorado, we have a “host law” which holds the host of a party or bartender responsible if they permit a drunk individual to leave and attempt to drive. In your explanation, it is clear that the host attempted to stop that from happening so he is in the clear. I do not believe the law here has been written to apply to cabbies, so he may well be in the clear too.

I was going to say something very similar to this. The cab driver is not responsible, the responsibility should go to the drunk person. Just because someone is drunk, doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible IMHO.


My view is that unless there was a statute specific to this situation, nothing happens to Person B or the cab driver. The only damage was to the driver but Person B wasn’t the cause and the cab driver’s relationship was to Person B, not A.

If the driver hurt or killed someone, then the question seems to involve what the cab driver knew or reasonably should have known about the intoxication of his passenger and how it might affect his driving. “Ordinary care” is probably the level to get the cab driver off the hook.

In PA, I am relatively certain that even if a person is sleeping it off in the back seat with his keys on his person, he can be charged with DUI, since he has the {i}potential{i} to drive the car. I believe the fact that he has the keys on him is the mitigating factor. If he had simply passed out in the back without any keys, the car cannot be driven, and therefore no DUI charge. Public intoxication, loitering, etc, is another matter, depending on the officer.

Here if your legally sloshed and you have the keys in the ignition you can get a DWI,even if you didn’t actually start the engine.Which I can understand, In the wrong hands a vehicle can be very dangerous,even for very short distances.
Like the lady here last summer who started her car and instead of putting it in reverse,she engaged drive and drove her brand new car OFF a two story parking garage. I went and looked at the parking spot ,and I can’t figure out how in the hell she did i it without gunning the engine full speed from a dead stop…

I dispise this type of thinking.

Next I suppose that if I drive a Ferrari I’ll have to stop on the on-ramp to receive a speeding ticket because I “might” exceed 70 mph…

(This tirade is directed at the law mentioned above and NOT at TM)

I didn’t think it was.
A coupla years ago my bestest buddy “B” was strolling through town when he happened upon a guy sleeping in a car clutching a jug-o-booze.It was freezing so he called the “man” from a phone booth about 10-20 feet down the street,just then the guy woke up,started the car,the car kicked into gear somehow and rolled straight at “B” in the booth. Lukily the drunken bastard didnt stomp on the gas. The car hit a concrete post next to the booth and stopped. Nobody hurt,the drunkard went to the pokey.
If I see someone passed out in a car with the keys in the ignition I’m calling “the man”…

The only relevant story I know is that a cab driver was once convicted under the Mann act for knowingly driving a woman across a state line for the purpose of fornication. Which was illegal in at least one of the two states. Long time ago.

The reasoning, IIRC from a case many years ago in Canada, is that the drunk is in “care and control” of the vehicle. (Without the keys, I suppose he wouldn’t have full control.) The conventional wisdom among young drinkers was that you should hide the keys outside the car someplace if you intended to sleep it off.

The case concerned a guy who left his car and walked home, then came back in the morning still over the limit to pick it up. I think the cop was a jerk - at least the guy made an effort to be legal, and the cop could have given him a 24-hour suspension instead. On the other hand, I knew the guy, and he was pretty much of a jerk himself, so he may have asked for it.

I always thought that if a cop saw you, you should just say “I got in, and was about to start the car, but then decided not to and fell asleep.” The reasoning is that if you say “I drove few blocks and decided I couldn’t,” you’ll be charged with driving those few blocks drunk.

I’m sure they heard that one before.Badge?? Man there’s never one around when you need 'em:D :smiley: :smiley:

(slight hijack) I used to work for a guy who had parties at his house often. Lots of booze was served. When you got to his house, he took your car keys and put them in a shoe box, which was kept in a locked bedroom. If you were in no condition to drive when you were ready to go, he’d put you in a guest room, call a cab, or get his ‘designated driver’ to take you home, but you weren’t gonna get your car keys til you were sober! I thought this was a great idea, cuz when people showed up at the party, they were sober, and knew driving drunk is dumb, and would readily give up their keys to keep from doing something stupid later.

I had a friend of mine who was attending a party at his friend’s apartment. Much alcohol was served and everyone was pretty well shit-faced.

My friend went out to his car to get some CDs from the glove compartment. A cop pulled up, saw him rummaging around, trying to pick out some CDs. He ending up getting a DWI, since his keys were in the ignition (they had been there since he arrived at the party).

This was in 1997, so laws may have changed. However, I think it depends on the specific charge.

I don’t remember all the details, but I was on a jury in a similar scenario to the one that you describe. They charged him with some form of DUI. He was sleeping in a running vehicle in a bank parking lot. His friend was supposed to be driving, but he left to find a phone or something due to problems with the vehicle. I think the problem was a water pump, if this is the case, the truck probably wasn’t in very good shape after the incident. He slid over to the driver’s seat to start the truck since it was cold out. No proof regarding the existance or non-existance of this friend was ever presented. When the police opened the door, he caught himself on the gear shift which put the truck in drive. However, he was found not guilty on the specific charge. There were other charges that could have been filed, but they went for the strictest of charges. However, what he was doing did not fit the definition of “operation of a motor vehicle”, which was required for the charge. I believe there were similar charges that could have been brought against him and he would have been found guilty.

BTW, I forgot to mention this jury duty was in PA.

I believe this is a federal law and he violated a federal statute (interstate commerce).