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Can you get a DWI in Texas just by sitting in your car?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2021 | DWI

The Texas Department of Transportation reports that in 2020 there were over 950 DWI fatalities split between rural and urban communities. Many more people drive while intoxicated and get home safely.

What if you are sitting in your car drinking an alcoholic beverage? Can law enforcement arrest you or give you a ticket for that? In Texas, they can.

Texas DWI law

Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code states that a person commits an offense of a DWI if they operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Texas law is broad when it comes to the phrase “operating a motor vehicle,” and it is up to the courts to determine how the law works in a particular situation.

Examples of operating a parked vehicle

The police may charge you with a DWI while being in a parked car if you are:

  • Sitting or sleeping in the driver’s seat
  • Listening to your radio
  • Sitting or sleeping with keys in the ignition
  • Sitting or sleeping with your seat belt on

The judge may take other factors into account, such as:

  • Location of the keys
  • Location of the driver
  • Location of the car
  • Was the car’s engine running
  • Was the driver awake or asleep

You may think you are keeping yourself and everyone safe by drinking at home, but even if you decide to listen to your radio in the car while having a beer, you may still get yourself in trouble with the law. Know the laws of Texas regarding DWIs.