Do I Have to Be Driving a Vehicle to Get a DWI?
Drunk driving is a serious criminal offense. Under Texas law (Texas Penal Code Sec. 49.04), you can be arrested and charged if you are found to be “intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” A common misconception about our state’s DWI law is that people believe that an officer must pull them over in a moving vehicle to arrest them. That is simply not the case. You can be charged with a DWI in Texas if you are found to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle. Here, our Fort Worth DWI defense lawyer explains Texas intoxication driving law in more detail.
Texas DWI Law: Understanding “Actual Physical Control”
In Texas, being charged with and convicted of a DWI does not require any officer observation that you were moving while under the influence. To be sure, most DWI charges are brought against motorists who were pulled over. However, that is not a statutory requirement. A critical component of Texas DWI law revolves around the concept of “actual physical control.” In effect, an individual can be arrested and charged with a DWI in Texas if they are intoxicated and they have the capability and power to direct/regulate the vehicle.
The Most Common Example: Intoxicated Person Found in Driver’s Seat of Parked Vehicle
One of the most frequent scenarios leading to a DWI charge in Texas, even without driving, involves an intoxicated individual found in the driver’s seat of a parked car. Merely being in that position can imply “actual physical control” and could lead to a DWI charge. It is illegal to sleep in the driver’s seat of a parked car while intoxicated. Technically no. Of course, it is never a good idea as it is suggestive of intoxicated driving in the eyes of the law, which could lead to an arrest and criminal charges. From that point, a number of case-specific issues will be addressed, including:
- The location of the keys (were they in the ignition);
- The position of the vehicle (does it appear it moved frequently); and
- The temperature of the hood (it is hot, indicating that the engine was running).
Actual physical control DWI charges are complex. A person arrested and charged with a DWI despite not being observed driving the vehicle has the right to raise a zealous defense. An experienced Fort Worth DWI defense attorney can review your case and protect your rights and your interests.
Consult With a Top DWI Defense Attorney in Fort Worth
At The Law Office of Kyle Whitaker, our Fort Worth DWI defense lawyer has the expertise that you can trust in even the most complex of cases. If you or your loved one was arrested for a DWI outside of a vehicle, we can help. Give us a phone call now or contact us online to set up your confidential initial appointment. From our Fort Worth law office, we defend DWI charges all across North Texas, including in Dallas, Arlington, Irving, Grapevine, Denton, Mansfield, and Weatherford.