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Do To-Go Alcohol Sales Conflict with Open Container Laws?The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that restaurants are allowed to operate in Texas. The recent decision to close bars amid concerns about spreading the coronavirus has received attention, including protests by bar owners and employees. Texas had earlier enacted another change to how alcohol is sold when it allowed to-go alcohol sales from restaurants. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed the waiver for to-go alcohol sales in order to help restaurants that could no longer serve dine-in customers. He has said that he will consider continuing the practice after the pandemic is over because of its popularity. However, to-go alcohol sales can potentially lead to drivers violating the open alcohol container laws and a charge of driving while intoxicated if they are not careful.

How Do To-Go Sales Work?

The waiver for to-go alcohol sales allows customers to purchase an alcoholic beverage as a carry-out order as long as:

  • They are purchasing the beverage along with food
  • The alcohol is in a sealed container while it is being transported

With the new rule, restaurants have been able to sell beer, wine, and kits to make your own mixed drinks at home. Despite the name, to-go alcohol sales do not allow you to take an alcoholic beverage in a to-go cup as you would with a non-alcoholic beverage.

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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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How a Single-Vehicle Crash Affects a DWI CaseWhen a driver is involved in a crash, the responding police officers will be on alert for signs that the driver is intoxicated. They may become suspicious if there is an odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle or the driver has symptoms of intoxication. Driving while intoxicated in an incident that causes serious injury to another party is a felony instead of a misdemeanor. However, some suspected DWI incidents are single-vehicle accidents in which no one other than the driver was injured. How might a single-vehicle accident affect your DWI case? There are several factors to consider:

  1. Cause of the Accident: When a person charged with DWI is in a single-vehicle crash, there can be an assumption that the suspect’s intoxication caused the crash. Proving that other circumstances were responsible for your crash could help dispel the idea that you must have been intoxicated. The road conditions may have been treacherous because of precipitation or debris. You may have reacted to the reckless behavior of another driver. Your vehicle may have malfunctioned. You need to tell your defense lawyer what caused your crash.
  2. Mistaken Symptoms: Some of the symptoms of intoxication that police officers look for include erratic behavior and slurred speech. However, a head injury you suffered during your accident could just as easily cause those symptoms. You should also refuse to take any field sobriety tests at the scene because you do not know how your accident may have affected your balance and coordination.
  3. Blood Samples: You have the right to refuse a blood or breath test to measure your blood alcohol concentration, though it may result in an automatic driver’s license suspension. However, the officer may not need your consent to take a blood sample if you are unconscious following a crash. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the implied consent law allows an officer to take a blood sample without a warrant from an unconscious person who is suspected of DWI as long as there are exigent circumstances that require an immediate draw.
  4. Property Damage: Prosecutors may add a charge of reckless damage or destruction of property if your accident caused property damage. This is a Class C misdemeanor charge that results in a $500 fine. You may also be ordered to pay the property owner for the value of replacing the property.

Contact a San Antonio DWI Defense Lawyer

When you are arrested on suspicion of DWI after a crash, it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. A San Antonio DWI defense attorney at the Law Offices of Sam H. Lock will prepare a defense strategy to prevent a conviction. To schedule a free consultation, call 888-726-5625.

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Choose Your Words Carefully During a DWI StopIf you have ever been pulled over by a police vehicle, you know the dread and nervousness you feel even if you do not believe you have done anything wrong. Feeling nervous can cause you to say things that you will later regret. Unfortunately, police can use what you say during a traffic stop as evidence in order to arrest you for an offense such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. How can you get through a traffic stop without saying something that may be incriminating? You should know when to be quiet and how to answer questions honestly without divulging too much information.

Silence Is Golden

One way to avoid making an incriminating statement is to keep your talking to a minimum during the stop. Speak when the officer asks you a question but otherwise remain silent. Do not volunteer information that the officer did not ask for, even if you think that it may help you. For instance, saying that you are not drunk before the officer asks you a question will make them more suspicious. You do not have to prove anything. The officer is the one who must prove that there is probable cause to arrest you.

What to Say

During the stop, the police officer may ask you questions that will try to make you admit on your own that you are intoxicated. Common questions 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