Defining what behaviors constitute “driving” or “operating” a motor vehicle is not always a straightforward task. Texas law does not provide a clear definition for either of these terms in its statutes relating to DWI. As a result, the definition of driving in Fort Worth DWI cases may provide a basis to challenge or defend against DWI charges.
With an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side, you may be able to cast doubt on whether you were driving at the time of your DWI arrest. Establishing reasonable doubt as to one or more of the required elements in your case can be a means to overcome the charges against you. By providing evidence that you were not driving within the meaning of the DWI statute, you may be able to avoid or minimize the potential repercussions of a conviction.
Everyday Situations Leading to DWI Charges
The most common scenario that results in DWI charges occurs when a police officer makes a traffic stop and determines that alcohol or drugs may be impairing the driver. In this case, the definition of driving or operating a motor vehicle is not at issue, since the police officer observed the individual driving at the time of the traffic stop.
However, DWI charges can emerge from other situations, as well. In these Fort Worth DWI cases, defining driving may be crucial. For instance, police officers may charge someone with DWI when they are:
- Asleep in the back seat of a car
- Sleeping in the driver’s seat with the keys in the ignition and the motor still running
- Lying on the ground near the vehicle with the keys in the ignition
- Walking away from a parked vehicle with the keys in their pockets
In each of these cases, police officers may proceed with DWI charges even though they did not see the accused driving the motor vehicle. These situations can result in the defense arguing there is insufficient evidence to prove that the accused had been operating a motor vehicle. While evidence may support the fact that the drivers were intoxicated at the time of their arrest, there may not be enough to definitively prove at least one of the other necessary elements of the criminal offense.
Circumstantial Evidence in Fort Worth DWI Cases
In DWI traffic stops, there is usually direct evidence as to who was driving the vehicle. When the officer stops the car, there is a person in the driver seat who presumably was driving. In other cases, circumstantial evidence, which comes from assumptions based on clues from the scene, can support a conclusion that a specific individual was driving the motor vehicle.
For example, suppose that three people were in a vehicle at the time of an accident. When law enforcement officers arrive, all three people are outside the vehicle, none admit to driving the car, and all appear to be impaired to some degree. In this situation, circumstantial evidence may be the only way to prove which of the three was driving, such as which person has the car keys, which person owns the vehicle, and whose purse or wallet is in the front seat of the car.
In Fort Worth DWI cases, defining driving can be an essential part of any defense. If the evidence of driving is weak, experienced defense counsel might be able to argue for dismissal or reduction of the charges.
Ask a Fort Worth Attorney About the Definition of Driving in DWI Cases
Defining driving in Fort Worth DWI cases is not always easy, and it can be an instrumental part of any DWI defense. If evidence shows that the accused may not have been operating a motor vehicle, then prosecutors could have a difficult time establishing a case for DWI. This example is just one of the many ways that an experienced attorney could defend you against DWI charges in Fort Worth.
For further questions about the definitions of driving for DWI purposes, you should not hesitate to contact a criminal defense lawyer for advice. Call today to schedule a consultation and begin building a strong defense.