Minimizing the Consequences of an Arrest or Conviction for Driving While Intoxicated
We all make mistakes. But some of them can have devastating consequences, including a conviction for driving while intoxicated (DWI). You may be aware of some of the potential ramifications of a DWI—the hefty fines, potential jail time, and loss of driving privileges. There are also other ways a DWI can change your life:
- You may find it difficult or impossible to get motor vehicle insurance, you may only be able to secure coverage with a sizable premium.
- Your job may be at risk, either because you can’t drive or because the DWI conviction violates the terms of your employment.
Driving While Intoxicated in Texas: The Basics
Texas drunk driving laws make it a criminal offense to operate a motor vehicle in a public place if you are legally intoxicated:
- A motor vehicle is defined to include a car, truck, motorcycle, or any vehicle designed or intended to transport people on a highway.
- Public places include any location available or accessible to the public, including highways, roads, public parking lots, and public parking ramps.
- You will be deemed intoxicated under either of the following circumstances:
- A valid alcohol concentration test is conducted when you are detained, and your alcohol concentration is at or above .08 as measured in your blood, on your breath, or in your urine. (It’s important to understand that there’s no direct correlation between the type and number of drinks you have and your alcohol concentration. Alcohol concentration can be affected differently by a variety of factors, including weight, what you eat, and even your gender.)
- It can be proven in court that the normal use of your mental or physical faculties was impaired by the use of alcohol, drugs, controlled substances, or some combination thereof. You don’t need an alcohol concentration above the legal limit to be convicted of driving while intoxicated.
Can I Be Convicted of Drunk Driving If My BAC Was Below .08?
In a criminal proceeding, the prosecutor can bring in different types of evidence to support a charge of driving while intoxicated. Evidence may be physical, i.e., the results of a valid alcohol concentration test, or it can be the testimony of witnesses, such as police officers, passengers in your vehicle, patrons at a bar, or guests at a party. The prosecutor must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that you were impaired by drugs or alcohol at the time you were operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Ultimately, it is up to the court to determine if the evidence is sufficiently compelling to convict you.
Can I Be Charged with DWI If I’m in a Parked Vehicle?
If your vehicle is parked in a public place, you can be charged with DWI. The law does not require you to be operating the motor vehicle on a roadway or for the vehicle to be in motion. It requires only that you have physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated. Technically, if your car is in “Park,” or even turned off, you are not “operating” the vehicle; however, prosecutors and police officers can bring in circumstantial evidence to suggest to a judge or jury that you were operating the vehicle while intoxicated. For example, suppose you are found sleeping in your car five miles from the bar where you had your last drink. You were seen leaving the bar alone, and witnesses testify that you were visibly intoxicated when you left. A judge or jury may look at the circumstances and conclude that the only way you could get your car five miles from the bar was to drive while intoxicated.
What If I Had a Prescription for the Drugs That Caused My Impairment?
A valid prescription generally is not an effective defense to a DWI charge.
Contact the Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive Texas drunk-driving defense lawyer, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.