On July 30 of this year, police arrested a Rawlins, Wyoming man driving his orange tractor down a Rawlins city street and weaving into multiple lanes. When police attempted to pull him over, he refused to stop, engaging in a low-speed chase until he reached his home and tried to go inside. At that point, police attempted to issue a field sobriety test, which the Rawlins man refused. His mama, however, was on the scene and told officers her son had been drinking. While the idea of a low-speed chase after an orange tractor might give you a chuckle, DWI arrests on farm equipment are not uncommon in Texas either.
Driving While Intoxicated in Texas
In Texas, a person is impaired and driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they have a blood alcohol content of 0.08. However, a person may also be intoxicated if they are impaired from alcohol or drugs, regardless of their blood alcohol level. See Texas Pen. Code § 49.04 (2011).
What is a “Motor Vehicle”?
Texas law defines “motor vehicle” pretty broadly. It “means a device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway, except a device used exclusively on stationary rails or tracks.” Tex. Penal Code § 32.34(a)(2) (1994). Yes, this includes pretty much any farm equipment that you can drive on a highway.
Penalties for DWI
A first-offense DWI is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to $2,000, up to 1 year of a suspended license, and a minimum of 72 hours in jail. A DWI with an open container of alcohol in the vehicle is also a Class B misdemeanor, but with a minimum penalty of six days in jail. A DWI with a blood alcohol level at 0.15 or higher is a Class A misdemeanor. A DWI with a child passenger under the age of 15 is even more severe. This DWI offense is a State Jail Felony punishable with up to a $10,000 fine, loss of driver's license for up to 180 days minimum, and up to two years in jail.
Multiple DWI convictions increase the possible penalties. A second DWI conviction can result in fines up to $4,000, loss of a license for up to two years, and up to one month in jail. A third offense can result in up to a $10,000 fine, loss of a license for up to two years, and two to ten years in prison.
If you're facing a DWI charge, whether from a tractor, a car, or a riding lawn mower, you need an experienced DWI attorney. Attorney Doug Murphy is a leader in Texas criminal defense practice. He is one of only two Texas lawyers Board Certified in DWI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense and also in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization . Doug Murphy can fight to ensure you get the best possible outcome for your case. And please, don't let your mama talk to the police about it.