Visiting our Nation’s National Parks, Sea Shores, and Wildlife Refuges is something that many people enjoy, especially on a holiday weekend. Nueces County is home to a National seashore in Padre Island, which is run by the National Park Services and it is one of only ten in the country.

If you are planning on going to the beautiful Padre Island National Seashore then you need to be aware of some of the consequences that may arise if you choose to drink.  However, because Padre Island National Seashore is a national park, it is subject to federal criminal laws which, while similar in some aspects, are different from Texas state laws.

Therefore if you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI while on federal property it is important they consult with a Lubbock Federal DUI lawyer as soon as possible to discuss their case can begin building a defense. An experienced federal attorney can assist by preparing the individual for what they should expect throughout the legal process and advocating on their behalf.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Texas

DWIs in Texas codifies intoxication and alcoholic offenses in Chapter 49 of the Penal Code.  This chapter defines and lists the different types of offenses under Texas law. Among these offenses are Public Intoxication (PI), Possession of Alcoholic Beverages in a Motor Vehicle, DWI, DWI with a child passenger, Boating While Intoxicated (BWI), and similar offenses.  This chapter also provides the legal definition of words and phrases that the State must prove to show that a person has violated a section of this chapter.

The word “intoxicated” means different things to everyone. Most people are familiar with someone being referred to as a lightweight or a heavyweight or even that some people hold their liquor better than others. However, Chapter 49 specifically states that “intoxicated” is:

1) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties because of alcohol, drugs, or both; or

2) having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more.

You have to meet either the first or second part of this definition, or both, in order to be considered intoxicated under Texas law.  Additionally, you have to be operating a motor vehicle in a public place in order to be charged with a DWI offense. This means that all someone needs to do is attempt to exert some personal effort to cause the vehicle to function in areas that are accessible to the public. This even includes sleeping in a parked car if you have the keys!

Federal DUI Regulations

There is also a federal DWI law that is similar to Texas’ state law which states that a person is in violation of the federal law if:

1) They are “[u]nder the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or drugs, or any combination thereof, to a degree that renders the operator incapable of safe operation”; or

2) If his blood alcohol concentration is .08 or above.

However, unlike Texas law which requires you to be driving on a public roadway, federal law only requires that you be in actual physical control of a vehicle.  This means that you do not need to be driving the vehicle in order to be charged with a federal DWI and you can be charged for merely having the capability to drive the vehicle should you choose to do so.  There are also a number of other factors for a Lubbock federal DUI lawyer to consider with getting arrested for a DWI on Federal land such as the Padre Island National Seashore.

Federal regulations state that “the [driver] shall submit to one or more tests of … blood [or] breath…” and that driver refusal to submit to one of the tests is prohibited and admissible in any judicial proceeding stemming from the arrest.  The federal law also requires that the government prove that you were operating your motor vehicle within its boundaries. This means that the government must show that you operated your vehicle while intoxicated inside of the Padre Island National Sea Shore.

DUI Stops

When a federal official pulls you over they must have a valid reason for doing so and this comes in many different forms such as observing you make a traffic violation to talking with you at a checkpoint at a national park.  It is after that observation that the officer starts to determine whether or not you are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Cases arising out of arrest in the Padre Island National Seashore have shown that the rangers are not afraid to pull someone over and charge them with a DWI.

Further, while you will rarely see a checkpoint in Texas, a ranger for the National Park Services in 2009 testified that anywhere from one to two times a month the rangers will conduct a road audit to make sure a park fee was collected. What this means is that there will be a checkpoint to stop ALL MOTORISTS where a ranger will talk with to find out whether you paid the entrance fee or not.

Importance of a DUI Lawyer

It is important that you make sure that you have adequate legal representation to guide you through this difficult time.  Here at Hamilton Grant our federal DUI lawyer in Lubbock are experienced with assisting clients who have been arrested and charged with a DWI. We will help guide you through the process from letting the prosecuting attorney know that our firm is representing you, to making sure that the officer had a legal reason for stopping you, to fighting for you in federal court.