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Has COVID-19 Reduced the Number of DWI Arrests in Texas?Many people expected the number of arrests in Texas for driving while intoxicated to decrease this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a couple of factors that seem to logically point towards this:

  • Many restaurants and bars have been closed, which reduces the number of people driving home after drinking.
  • People are more likely to stay at home as a precaution to avoid infection.

News reports in the early months of the pandemic suggested that DWI arrest numbers had dropped, but it seems that was only a temporary effect. A recent story on DWI arrests in San Antonio claimed that the number of arrests from Jan. 1 to July 6 was down only four percent from the same period last year – 2,255 arrests in 2019 and 2,168 arrests in 2020. 

Reasons Behind the Numbers

Why has the number of DWI arrests in Texas not decreased as people predicted? There are a few possible explanations:

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How Texas DWI Enforcement Applies to MotorcyclesFor riders throughout the U.S., motorcycles are more than a means of transportation. Owning and riding a bike can be a hobby, passion, and part of your identity. However, you need to remember that motorcycle riders follow the same laws for driving while intoxicated as everyone else on the road. If you are caught operating your bike with a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08 percent, you will face a misdemeanor criminal charge that could result in jail time, a fine of as much as than $2,000, and a driver’s license suspension. The suspension would also affect your eligibility to operate other vehicles.

Signs of DWI on a Motorcycle

Operating a motorcycle requires a different set of skills than driving a car, including the ability to keep yourself balanced and shift your body during turns. Because of this, police officers are looking for different signs that may indicate motorcycle riders are intoxicated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration describes these signs as “cues” and has two categories of cues that it instructs officers to watch for in motorcycle riders. According to an NHTSA study, “excellent cues” predicted a motorcycle DWI half of the time and include:

  • Difficulty keeping balance when stopped or dismounting the bike
  • Drifting during turns and curves in the road
  • Unsteady turns
  • Unnecessary weaving
  • Inattention to surroundings
  • Erratic behavior

There is another set of “good cues,” which predicted a motorcycle DWI in 30 to 50 percent of cases. They include:

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Possessing a Weapon During DWI Leads to Additional ChargeMany Texas residents have gone through the required steps in order to receive a license to carry (LTC) a firearm. The process involves submitting an application, taking state-approved training courses, and showing that their record is clear of any recent criminal charges. With an LTC, residents are allowed to carry an open or concealed weapon in most public places. However, legal gun possession can become a crime if you are being charged with committing another criminal offense at the same time, such as driving while intoxicated.

Unlawful Carrying of Weapon

Let us say that you have an LTC and are driving with your weapon either on your person or somewhere in the vehicle. A police officer stops you and, after observing your behavior, decides to arrest you on suspicion of DWI. The officer finds your weapon while searching your body or vehicle. Under Texas law, you may now receive an additional charge of unlawful carrying of a weapon, which is a Class A misdemeanor. How can you be unlawfully carrying your weapon when you have a valid LTC? Texas law states that it is unlawful to carry a weapon while committing a criminal offense, such as a robbery, assault, or, in this case, driving while intoxicated. The same weapon charge may apply if you are caught driving with an open container of alcohol in your vehicle.

What Is Your Defense?

One issue to consider if you have been charged with unlawful carrying of a weapon during a DWI arrest is whether the police officer was conducting an illegal search when they discovered the weapon. Just because the officer suspects you of DWI does not give them the right to conduct a search without a warrant.

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Can You Be Charged for DWI While Riding a Horse?A woman in Florida was recently charged with driving under the influence of alcohol for riding her horse near a busy highway while allegedly intoxicated. Such stories gain public attention because they are unusual. They also bring into question what qualifies as a DUI, or Texas’ preferred term of driving while intoxicated. For instance, Texas police arrested two men in 2011 for riding a horse and mule down a street while legally intoxicated. They were initially charged with DWI, but the charge was later reduced to public intoxication. Texas law is ambiguous regarding how to charge people who are using non-motorized transportation while intoxicated.

Riding While Intoxicated

Texas law clearly defines DWI incidents as involving motorized vehicles, which may include cars, trucks, motorcycles, motor boats and aircrafts. However, there are other means of transportation that do not involve motors, such as:

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Posted on in DWI / DUI

Social Media is Evidence in DWI CasesThe proliferation of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter has created a culture of oversharing personal information. Incredulously, this includes people posting incriminating information about themselves that either leads to their arrest or is used as evidence in a trial. In cases of driving while intoxicated, some suspects share details about traffic incidents and their drinking habits before they have been arrested. A court may view these posts as admissions of guilt. If you are involved in a suspected DWI incident, you must be silent on social media in order to protect yourself.

Public Forum

If you are pulled over by a police officer, you should know not to brag about how much you’ve had to drink or how your intoxication may have affected your driving ability. People are essentially doing just that when they post information about their DWI incident to social media. Many users forget how social media actually works:

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Office

Bexar County

In the historic King William District

1011 S. Alamo,
San Antonio, Texas 78210
210-226-0965
888-726-5625 Toll Free
210-226-7540

Office

Guadalupe County

109 Court Street,
Seguin, Texas 78155
830-372-1522
888-726-5625 Toll Free