Can I be Charged with a DWI if I Wasn’t Driving?

Typically, when a person is arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), he or she will have been seen driving by the arresting police officer. It is not unheard of, however, for motorists to be arrested for driving while intoxicated when they weren’t driving, but were merely sitting in their vehicles. For help defending yourself against these types of allegations, please reach out to our experienced Houston DWI defense lawyers today.

Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

In order to be convicted of driving while intoxicated in Texas, the state must be able to prove that a person:

When it comes to proving the third element, many defendants believe that they need only demonstrate that they weren’t actually driving to avoid conviction. The reality is that what qualifies as operating a vehicle could include more than just the act of driving itself, but has been defined by a number of state courts much more broadly. For this reason, it is possible for those who had no intention of driving a vehicle while intoxicated, to be charged with a DWI.

Circumstantial Evidence

In cases where a police officer didn’t actually witness someone driving while inebriated, a person could still be convicted of DWI if the state can prove that he or she was operating a vehicle through the submission of circumstantial evidence, such as:

  • A driver’s admission at the time of arrest;
  • Identification by an eyewitness who saw the person driving;
  • The presence of keys in the ignition and the defendant’s being seated in the driver’s seat;
  • Proof that the vehicle was running when the driver was arrested;
  • Proof that the engine of a vehicle was warm; or
  • Evidence fresh tire tracks on the road matching the accused party’s vehicle.

These kinds of situations tend to arise most often in cases where a person decides not to drink and drive, but instead chooses to sleep in his or her car. Although their intentions were to stay off the road while intoxicated, they could still be charged with a DWI if they are found in the driver’s seat, on the side of a public road, and with the keys in the ignition. Someone who was asleep in the backseat of a vehicle while in a parking lot, with his or her keys in the glove box, on the other hand, would have a better chance of being able to defeat a prosecutor’s allegations that he or she intended to drive while intoxicated.

Need Advice from a DWI Lawyer?

Reach Out to Our Legal Team in Houston Today!

Just because you find yourself charged with a DWI does not mean that you are out of luck. In fact, there are a number of defenses that people can raise to help avoid being unfairly convicted of a DWI offense, so if you were recently arrested for driving while intoxicated, please call Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A. Nelson today at 713-489-7373 today to speak with an experienced Houston DWI defense lawyer about your options.