DWIs and Drunk Driving on Private Property in Texas

More often than not, people who are pulled over and have been out drinking and driving are charged with a DWI in a public place.  But, what happens when you are driving drunk on your own property?  It is a common misconception that you are immune from arrest or being charged with a DWI if you are on your own property.  While you may be safe in some cases, you may not be safe in other cases.

In Texas, the law regarding being charged with a DWI technically states that you must be driving under the influence and operating a motor vehicle in a public place.  However, sometimes it is difficult to determine what a public place is.  For example, a parking lot is sometimes considered private property, but open to the public, so this would be considered a public place.  Also, you may live on what is considered a private road where other residents live, so you may believe this is private property.  You may be correct, but if the street is open to the public, or if a non-resident is able to access the road, this road may very well be deemed a public place for purposes of being charged with a DWI.

The police can arrest you if they have probable cause to do so for driving under the influence.  Even if you are operating your motor vehicle on what you believe is your own property, the police still may have probable cause to believe your conduct is a threat to yourself or others.  Therefore, you should not assume that you are completely safe from arrest or conviction if you are driving drunk on your own property.

Oftentimes people may be confused about what public place means and what private place or private property means.  It seems logical to assume that you can do what you want on your own property as long as you are not harming anyone else.  While this may be the case if you are in your own home, this is not always the case if you are outside of your home.  You are less likely to cause harm to others if you are drinking in the comfort of your own home.  But, if you have been drinking and get behind the wheel, even if you do not start the car, you have run the risk of harming someone else, even if you are on your own property.

A key example is where you may get behind the wheel in your driveway and back up while someone is walking across on the sidewalk, or perhaps even through your lawn.  Even if this person walks through your lawn, which is your own property, and you hit this person when leaving your driveway, you may certainly be facing DWI charges in addition to more severe charges for injuring another person.  Don’t take the chance of exposing yourself to criminal charges.  You should assume that no matter where you are when you are driving a motor vehicle, whether on a public street or on your own property, you may be subject to a DWI conviction if you are under the influence.  That is why you should speak with a criminal defense attorney experienced with DWI charges.

If you have been charged with a DWI for driving under the influence on what you believe to be private property, contact our office today to speak with Attorney Jack Pettit.  Mr. Pettit is an experienced criminal defense attorney who has handled thousands of DUI cases in Dallas and the surrounding areas.  Don’t assume that you are immune from Texas law if you were not driving in a public place while intoxicated.  Mr. Pettit will look at every fact available in your case to determine if the police had probable cause to charge you with a DWI.  Contact our office today by calling 214-521-4567.  We conveniently offer bilingual services in both English and Spanish.  We also accept most major credit cards.

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