What to do if at the time of an accident if someone else was behind the wheel but another person was charged?

UPDATED: Jan 15, 2011

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What to do if at the time of an accident if someone else was behind the wheel but another person was charged?

At the time of an accident a car went into a snowbank. Another person switched places with the driver to try and get the car off the bank. At that time the police arrived. Both people in the car had been drinking but only the person behind the wheel when the police arrived was charged. Who should have been charged? If the person who was driving at the time of the accident was not charged at the time, can they be charged weeks later?

Asked on January 15, 2011 under Criminal Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) The driver should have been charged with DUI--he or she was driving under the influence. He or she can be charged weeks later, when and if the true facts come out. The non-driver would not be charged for DUI.

2) The person who switched has also committed an offense: making a false report, obstructing justice, etc. (The exact charge will vary by the precise facts, local laws, and what the prosecutor wants to go for.) The driver has also committed this offense as well.

3) This may also constitute either or both of insurance fraud (if a claim has been submitted) and/or grounds to cancel automobile insurance.

This is now a more serious situation than it should have been. Consulting with an attorney with DUI experience is recommended.

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