Could someone be charged with conspiracy to commit DUI?
A person is guilty of DUI in California if they drive on public roadways under the influence of drugs or alcohol to such an extent that they cannot exercise the same level of care a sober person would, or with a blood alcohol level above 0.08%BAC. What about people who enable or encourage a person to drive after drinking?
Are they guilty of conspiracy to commit DUI?
Understanding Conspiracy laws in California
California criminal law on conspiracy is found in Penal Code 182. Conspiracies are formed when two or more people engage in criminal conduct, or where a person encourages or aids another in committing a criminal act. The penalties for conspirators are the same as the penalties for the perpetrator of the criminal act.
Why does someone who helps another commit a crime receive the same punishment?
The law in California wants to discourage criminal conduct in all of its various forms. The law also recognizes the special dangers that conspiracies present: namely when someone gets “help” to commit a crime, they are more likely to succeed and potentially impact more victims due to the aid they got. Because of this, the law wants to discourage people from aiding or abetting others to commit crimes, and consequently punishes conspirators very harshly: they receive the same punishment as the person who actually commits the underlying crime.
DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts of the case. A person who aids, assists or encourages someone to commit DUI is theoretically guilty of conspiracy and could face the same penalties a DUI driver faces under PC 182.
Conduct that could expose someone to conspiracy liability:
Encouraging someone to commit a crime or assisting them to commit a crime can form the necessary conduct for a criminal conspiracy to be formed. For example: Mike buys Sally a few glasses of wine during dinner at a restaurant. The restaurant closes, and Mike and Sally agree to drive to a nearby night club to continue drinking. Mike agrees to follow Sally in separate cars to the night club. Arguably Mike is guilty of conspiring with Sally to commit DUI if Sally is in fact too intoxicated to drive.