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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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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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Child Passenger Makes DWI Offense a FelonyThere are several aggravating factors in driving while intoxicated cases that can lead to harsher penalties if convicted. Child endangerment is one of the most serious factors because it involves your responsibility to protect the children in your vehicle. A DWI charge that is normally a misdemeanor becomes a felony when children are involved. Beyond criminal ramifications, your fitness as a parent will come into question. DWI with a child passenger is a serious offense that can disrupt your family if not successfully contested.

Arrest Standards

A passenger qualifies as a child in a DWI case if he or she is younger than 15. A child only needs to be present in the vehicle during your suspected DWI incident in order for a DWI with child passenger charge to be filed. If the child was injured during the incident, that may result in a separate charge of intoxication assault with serious bodily injury. When a child is involved in a DWI incident, Texas law states that the officer must take a blood or breath test to determine your blood alcohol content. DWI lawyers advise that you refuse the test because of the incriminating evidence it can provide. However, refusing the test may result in additional charges. An officer can legally compel you to submit to a test only if he or she first produces a warrant. A warrantless test is unconstitutional in most cases, and the result from the test may be dismissed in court.

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Texas Court Upholds Citizen's Arrest in DWI CaseA Texas appellate court denied a woman’s request to overturn her driving while intoxicated conviction, which she claims was influenced by inadmissible evidence. In her appeal, the woman argued that:

  • A private security guard involved in her case was not authorized to make a citizen’s arrest; and
  • Without informing her of her Miranda rights, a police officer at the scene questioned her and obtained an incriminating statement, which he mentioned during his testimony.

The appellate court decided that the citizen’s arrest was legal and the self-incriminating statement was not the deciding evidence in the case.

Case Details

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Illegal Traffic Stop Can Sink DWI ChargePolice officers must follow several legal steps when arresting you on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. A mistake at any point in the process can result in the DWI charges being dropped. For instance, a police officer must have a legal reason to stop you leading up to your DWI arrest. If the officer performs an illegal stop, evidence of your alleged DWI may be inadmissible in court, including blood alcohol content and field sobriety tests. Without this key evidence, you can petition to have your DWI charge dismissed.

Reasonable Suspicion

Because most DWI arrests do not involve warrants, a police officer must have some cause to pull over a driver. Unfortunately for DWI defendants, Texas allows DWI traffic stops based on the broadly defined standard of reasonable suspicion. Unlike probable cause, reasonable suspicion only requires that an officer have some reason to believe that the driver committed a traffic violation or was driving dangerously. The officer can be mistaken but still justified in performing the stop if it was based on a reasonable belief. Valid reasons for DWI traffic stops include:

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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