If you are in a parked car and found to be intoxicated, you could be arrested and charged with a DWI. Factors such as where the car is, how or when it got there, and your level of intoxication all play a role in what might happen to you. Sleeping in your car with no intent of driving, even if your engine is not running, could still mean that you face a DWI charge. Being charged with a DWI in this kind of situation can be particularly frustrating, and that is why you need to hire a lawyer who has experience fighting these charges.
When you hire The Wilder Law Firm, you will be putting more than 25 years of experience with DWI cases in your corner. Trying to do the right thing and not actually drive can carry the same penalties as a drunk driver would face. At a time like this, you need my experience and dedication to not only establish the most effective defense for you, but to intervene and communicate with the judicial system on your behalf. Call The Wilder Law Firm at 214-741-4000 for immediate help.
What is Parking While Intoxicated?
Parking while intoxicated is not an official crime in the Texas Penal Code, however it can be a factor that leads to a DWI charge. The DWI law is defined as a situation where a person is intoxicated and also operates a motor vehicle in a public place (Texas Penal Code Section 49.04(a)).The issue is that the penal code defines the terms “intoxicated” and “motor vehicle” but it does not define the term “operate.” Due to this, law enforcement can take certain liberties in establishing “operation” of the motor vehicle. Essentially, if the ignition is on, the police can claim that you were operating the motor vehicle, even if you were sleeping.
Fought This Situation and Won
There are two scenarios where parking while intoxicated could result in a DWI charge being filed.
- Your car is running.
- Your car is off.
Car is Running
You go out to a bar and realize it is time to leave. As you walk to your car, you realize you had too much to drink. You decide to do the right thing and not drive, but due to the weather (too hot or cold out) you start your car so you can use the air conditioner or heater and are going to sleep the intoxication off before you drive. Or you go home with your date and an argument ensues and they kick you out. You know you can’t drive so you get in your car that is legally parked on the street to sleep it off and only turn on the car for comfort. In these situations you are doing the right, safe thing and not driving, yet the police will treat you the same as the dangerous driver on the highway.
Car is Off
It does not happen often, but you can be charged with a DWI if you are intoxicated in a parked car and it is not running. This can happen when there is circumstantial evidence to prove you had very recently driven your car and had to be intoxicated when you drove. It is easy for an officer to make an allegation, but it may be more difficult to prove in court. Being illegally parked on a street eating fast food that was just purchased is one such scenario. Being parked on the side of a road and the hood of your car is still hot from the engine is another scenario. Here, there is circumstantial evidence to prove that the car was recently driven.
In my many years defending DWI cases, I have seen parking while intoxicating instances and I know how to fight them. I will start by thoroughly reviewing your situation with you and determine what really happened, not just rely on what the police are claiming. Sleeping in a car is not a crime and It is perfectly legal to do so. At the end of the day, you should not be subject to jail time and a permanent criminal record all for trying to do the right thing and not drive your car.
You will want to avoid a DWI conviction when possible as it carries serious penalties. For a first offense DWI, consequences include:
Deferred penalties (only available if your alcohol concentration is below a 0.15):
- A jail sentence up to 180 days (if ever finally convicted).
- A fine up to $2,000.
- An ignition interlock device installed in your car for a minimum of six months.
- Probation for up to two years.
- A successful deferred probation can be used to enhance any subsequent DWI arrest to a DWI 2nd.
- A 3-180 day jail sentence (if probation not granted).
- A fine up to $2,000.
- An additional “Super Fine” of $3,000, regardless of the court fine assessed, if your alcohol concentration was below 0.15 ($6,000 for an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or above).
- Potential for a 90 day to one year driver license suspension.
- An increase in auto insurance rates.
- A DWI listed on your permanent criminal record.
- Difficulty obtaining or keeping certain professional licenses.
- Difficulty obtaining or keeping certain jobs.
- Immigration issues.
- Child custody issues.
- Difficulty furthering your education.
If this is your second or subsequent DWI charge, the following penalties may apply:
- A minimum jail sentence of three days as a condition of probation.
- A minimum jail sentence of five days as a condition of probation if your prior DWI is within five years of the second arrest.
- A jail sentence of 30 days to one year if you are not granted probation.
- A fine up to $4,000.
- An additional “Super Fine” of $4,500, regardless of the court fine assessed, if your alcohol concentration was less than 0.15. ($6,000 is your alcohol concentration was 0.15 or higher).
- A suspension of your driver’s license for 180 days to two years.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive. You will not be able to legally drive any car without an ignition interlock device!
- Bond condition: The law mandates an ignition interlock device be installed in any car you drive as a condition of bond.
Our Focus is Your Future
If you or a loved one has been charged with DWI while you were parked and trying to do the right thing, you need an experienced lawyer who will fight for you. When you hire The Wilder Law Firm, we will make sure you know what needs to be done to most effectively defend you. The police have their side of the story and it is now time to tell yours, to set the record straight, and protect your future. If you want a strong, experienced, knowledgeable lawyer and firm to fight for you, contact us right now at 214-741-4000.