When you think of getting a DUI, what comes to mind? For most people, it’s getting behind the wheel of a vehicle after having had a few too many drinks. After all, DUI means driving under the influence.
However, did you know you can get a DUI even if you’re outside of a vehicle?
There are a few instances in which you can get a DUI without actually driving. Here’s what you need to know about the laws in Texas and how you can hire a defense attorney.
What Is Driving Under the Influence?
You’re considered legally intoxicated when your blood alcohol concentration is at 0.08%. However, any drugs or alcohol can affect your driving.
In Texas and all across the United States, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can result in fines, jail time, and loss of your driver’s license.
Levels of Charge
There are a few different levels of charge, depending on if it’s your first offense or not and other circumstances. In Texas, a first-time offense is considered a class B misdemeanor.
A first offense includes the following penalties:
- Fine of up to $2,000
- Up to 180 days in jail with three mandatory days
- Losing your driver’s license for up to a year
A second offense includes the following charges:
- Fine of up to $4,000
- Between a month to a year in jail
- Losing your driver’s license for up to two years
A third offense includes the following penalties:
- $10,000 fine
- Between two to ten years in prison
- Losing your driver’s license for up to two years
Additionally, you can be charged with child endangerment when you’re driving under the influence with children under 15 in the vehicle. You’ll face additional fines and can lose your driver’s license for longer.
In some cases, this can result in a felony charge.
Can You Get a DUI While Parked?
Did you get a DUI, but you weren’t driving? Maybe you were sitting in a parked car.
Most clients assume that when the vehicle is parked, and they aren’t driving that they can’t get arrested. However, police can arrest you if you were in control of the vehicle.
Being in control of a vehicle means that you physically had the capability to operate it. For instance, the keys may be in the ignition, or the car might be currently running. Additionally, if there is evidence the vehicle has been moved, this may prove physical control.
The vehicle doesn’t have to be in gear. The engine doesn’t have to be on either as putting a vehicle into neutral or letting it coast also counts as driving.
Charges can get dismissed if the police don’t have sufficient evidence to prove you were in physical control of the vehicle.
What About Being Outside the Vehicle?
Many people ask if they can get a DUI walking from the bar to their car. An officer can’t stop you and charge you with a DUI for this unless they have probable cause.
What is a probable cause?
Imagine John walks outside the bar and shows obvious signs of intoxication such as dropping his keys, stumbling, and so on. He unlocks the car and opens the door. An officer could stop him and request a sobriety test.
The police officer could claim probable cause because John was acting intoxicated and about to enter the vehicle. They could claim it was John’s intent to drive the vehicle under the influence.
What if you park a car and walk away?
There are some instances in which you could get a DUI this way.
For example, Lisa is currently driving her car after having a few drinks. She’s driving erratically, and an officer follows her, suspecting that she might be intoxicated. Even if Lisa parks her vehicle and starts walking to her house, the officer could stop her and arrest her for a DUI.
The court looks at all circumstances of your arrest. These include where you were, whether you had the keys to the vehicle, where the vehicle was, and whether the police officer saw you driving.
Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
The state can only convict you if you are guilty of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. This refers to the legal burden of proof necessary to convict someone in a criminal case. This falls on the prosecution and they must convince the jury there was no other reasonable explanation based on the evidence presented in the trial.
The state must prove every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction.
What About a DUI No Driving Defense?
It’s fairly common for people to take the “no driving defense” as a legal challenge. This may come up when the police or other witnesses did not see the defendant driving the vehicle.
If there is any reasonable doubt, the defendant may be declared not guilty of driving the vehicle while under the influence.
What Can You Do?
You can fight a DUI charge, but it requires having a knowledgeable defense attorney on your side. You want a criminal defense attorney with experience handling DUI cases.
If you were outside your vehicle or you weren’t driving at the time, a criminal defense attorney can fight for you and prevent you from facing the harsh consequences of driving under the influence. They can help you achieve a better outcome in your case, negotiate a plea deal, or even get charges dismissed.
Know Your Rights and Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Did you get a DUI even though you weren’t driving a vehicle at the time? Maybe your situation fits one of the examples listed above. You can fight DUI charges with the right criminal defense attorney.
Do you need a DUI attorney in Austin?
If so, contact us today to discuss your case. We’ll help you navigate the entire process and protect your rights.