Getting arrested for DWI is never good, and you're undoubtedly concerned about what will happen next and how you can defend yourself. But what if you're sure that the police didn't see you behind the wheel of a vehicle? Can they still arrest you, and how will that affect your defense? The good news is that it may affect the state's case against you. An expert in DWI defense, like Attorney Doug Murphy, may be able to use this in your defense or negotiations with the prosecutor.
What is a DWI in Texas?
You may face an arrest for DWI in Texas if you are operating a vehicle in public while intoxicated. However, the definition of “intoxicated” goes beyond an objective measure of your blood alcohol content by a blood or breathalyzer test. Under Texas law, you may be “intoxicated” if you:
- Have a BAC over the legal limit of .08%, or .04% if you hold a commercial driver's license, or
- No longer have the normal use of your physical or mental faculties.
Whether or not you have the normal use of your faculties is a subjective call made by the arresting police officer.
What is “Operating a Vehicle” in Texas?
Whether or not the police can arrest you for DWI also depends on whether you were operating a vehicle in a public place. Most of us would assume that “operating” a vehicle means driving it, but Texas goes beyond that simple definition. While Texas law defines “motor vehicle” as a “device in, on, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a highway…,” the DWI statute doesn't tell us what “operating” a motor vehicle means.
The police interpret “operating” a vehicle broadly as using it in any way that allows it to be used. If you are sitting in the driver's seat of your car with the keys, listening to the radio, or sleeping, and you are intoxicated, the police may arrest you for DWI. But what if they didn't actually see you behind the wheel?
In some cases, the police can reasonably infer that you were behind the wheel. If, for example, the police come to the hospital to question you after an accident, they may not see you behind the wheel of your car. Still, they can arrest you if it's reasonable to infer that you were driving when the accident happened, and you are intoxicated. However, your attorney may be able to use the fact that the police didn't see you behind the wheel if there's some question about who was driving.
Say, for example, you and a companion are heading home, someone calls the police about an erratic driver, and they arrive at your home where your car is in the driveway. Your companion answers the door and says that you were driving. The police determine that you are intoxicated and arrest you. In this case, there may be some question as to whether you or your companion was behind the wheel. An expert in DWI law may be able to use this as part of your DWI defense.
Hire an Expert in Texas DWI Law
If you're facing DWI charges in Houston and whether or not the police can prove you were behind the wheel is in question, you need a skilled DWI attorney by your side to defend you. Attorney Doug Murphy is an expert in Texas DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law and has considerable experience defending complex DWI cases. Doug is one of only two attorneys holding Board Certifications in both DWI Defense and Criminal Defense Law, making him an expert in these specialties.
U.S. News and World Report's Best Lawyers in America also named Doug Lawyer of the Year in 2021 and 2023 in Houston for DWI Defense. The Houston media dubbed Doug “the drinking driver's best friend.” Find out how he can help you too. Contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm online or call them at 713-229-8333 to schedule a consultation.