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You do not need to be driving to get a DWI charge

On Behalf of | Aug 21, 2023 | DWI

Under Texas law, if you’re driving a vehicle while you’re drunk, you could get arrested for a DWI charge. Consequently, you could still face severe repercussions even if you’re not actually driving the car but sitting in the driver’s seat with the engine on.

Are your keys in the ignition?

If you’re in a public space in Texas sitting in a parked car, you’ll unlikely be charged with a DWI. However, if you’re under the influence and have the keys in the ignition, the state may consider you in “actual physical control.” They also evaluate a DWI charge based on certain elements. To charge and convict someone of driving while intoxicated in Texas, the state must prove these four essential elements:

  • The person operated a motor vehicle.
  • The vehicle was a motor vehicle.
  • This event occurred in a public place.
  • The person was under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Further, it would be best to refrain from drinking up to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher in Texas. If they conclude that you do have that BAC, the state may consider you to be at a dangerous level of impairment from alcohol or drugs and evaluate your potential for a DWI charge.

What should you do instead?

To avoid a DWI while parked in Texas, ensure you’re not in control of a car under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, if you cannot avoid drinking, consider acting responsibly afterward by following these tips:

  • Do not sit in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition while under the influence.
  • Do not have the engine running while under the influence.
  • If you need to sleep it off, finding a safe place to park is important. Law enforcement may not consider you in physical control of the vehicle if you’re in the back seat or in a separate area away from the driver’s seat.
  • If you plan to drink, have a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service to avoid the risk of a DWI charge.

To avoid committing any driving violations, it’s your best bet to avoid operating any vehicle altogether after drinking. Otherwise, a jury will decide your future if you’re arrested for DWI and the case goes to court. This puts you at risk of receiving serious consequences.