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Can I Get a Texas DWI When My Car is Parked?


For many people who find themselves too drunk to drive home, sleeping in a parked vehicle long enough to sober up may seem like a viable option to avoid a DWI. However, what you believe is a responsible act can still lead to an arrest. 

Texas law states that a person commits a DWI when he/she is operating a vehicle in public while intoxicated. The term “operating” is quite vague because it could mean driving or otherwise doing something to affect how the vehicle functions. 

In other words, police do not have to witness you driving your vehicle prior to making an arrest. If there is “circumstantial evidence” that you had been operating your car or affected the functioning of the vehicle, the prosecution may have enough proof to obtain a guilty verdict in court. 

Common examples of circumstance evidence involving DWI: 

  • You are sitting in the driver’s seat 

  • The keys are inside or close to the ignition 

  • The engine is running 

  • There are visible tire tracks 

  • The tires are warm 

The Alband Law Firm recommends that you do not sleep in your car to avoid a Texas DWI. Instead, request a ride from Uber or Lyft, or call someone to pick you up and take you home. 

However, if you do find yourself in this type of situation, take certain steps to show that you did not operate the vehicle. Common precautions include sleeping in the backseat, leaving your keys inside the glove compartment or even the truck, and remain in the spot where your car is parked, rather than drive off. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DWI in Fort Worth or Fort Worth, contact us today at (817) 997-4366 and schedule a free consultation.