State Court Rules: No DWI in Driveway

An interesting case about DWIs recently came out of Michigan. In that case, the state’s court of appeals was tasked with determining whether a man could be convicted of DWI for driving under the influence in his own driveway. The case was appealed after the case was dismissed at trial level.

In this case, a man was arrested and charged with DWI after a man backed out of and back into his garage. The police were on scene to answer a call about loud music. Turns out he was drunk while driving, but he never left his own private property. Despite this fact, he was arrested and charged with DWI, and forced to defend the charges against him.

The law in Michigan penalizes those who drive while intoxicated in a place that is generally accessible to other motorists. That definition alone is a lesson in just how complicated a legislature can make a legal principle. It is not clear or easily understood exactly what would constitute a place that is generally accessible to motorists. In any event, the trial judge ruled that because he simply backed in and out of his own garage, he could not be charged with DWI.

The prosecution, as they are want to do, appealed this decision not only for the result of this case, but to set a precedent throughout the case about when a person can be charged with DWI. To their chagrin, the precedent set is not at all friendly to future prosecutions of DWI in the State of Michigan. This is litigation and criminal defense in a nutshell, two sides fighting over the meaning of a rule, law, or ruling.

Texas DWI Laws and Private Drives

In Texas this issue would not likely have been raised. Our law is more straightforward in defining what is a DWI. Under Texas Penal Code Title 10, Chapter 49, DWI is defined at driving while intoxicated in a public place. Given the plain meaning of public place, this case surely would not have been brought in the first place, but that does not mean this issue is not litigated, or even clearly settled.

One important part of criminal defense work, and especially with DWIs, is ensuring that every provision of the law is followed and understood in the course of a prosecution. While the prosecutor may think that a particular provision may mean one thing, and therefore make charges based on it, that does not mean it has to be that way. A good attorney will fight for every last word, rule, law, and ruling to ensure that their client gets the best representation possible.

Dallas Area DWI Defense Team

At the Wilder DWI Defense Firm, we aggressively and relentlessly fight for our clients’ rights. We do not overlook defenses or facts in the face of adversity. In fact, we will take the fight to court for you and not look back. If you are accused of DWI in the Dallas area, contact us. We will help you understand what your legal options are and being an aggressive defense for you.