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Can you face a drunk driving charge if you aren’t driving?

On Behalf of | Jun 15, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In Texas, drunk driving refers to operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Intoxication means you don’t have the normal use of mental or physical faculties due to the consumption of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of those substances or any other substance in the body.

To be charged with drunk driving, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. This means that if you were not driving a vehicle at a point wherein you were impaired, you should not be charged with this form of criminal wrongdoing. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule.

Actual physical control

In some cases, if an intoxicated person is found in a vehicle, they may be considered to be in “actual physical control” of the vehicle, even if they were not driving. Factors that may contribute to this determination include the location of the keys, whether the engine was running, the position of the driver in the vehicle and the vehicle’s location.

For example, if the intoxicated person is found in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, they may be considered to be in actual physical control and could be charged with intoxicated driving.

Circumstantial evidence

In certain situations, officers may gather circumstantial evidence to suggest that a person was driving while intoxicated. This can include witness statements, security camera footage or evidence of a recent accident. If officers believe there is enough evidence to demonstrate that a person was driving while intoxicated, they may charge the individual with drunk driving.

Drunk driving penalties in Texas can be severe and include fines, jail time, community service, probation, mandatory alcohol education classes and driver’s license suspension, among others. The severity of the penalties depends on the specific circumstances of the case and whether it’s a first-time or repeat offense.

Keep in mind that these laws can be complex and subject to interpretation. If you are facing a DWI, it is important to seek legal guidance in order to understand your defense options so you can determine how to fight these charges most effectively.

Ramos & Del Cueto, can provide experienced and dedicated assistance if you find yourself in need of help. Call 210-761-6004 or use the form below to contact our firm immediately.