Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is illegal in Texas, and you don’t want to face charges or be arrested when you’re supposed to be enjoying the Super Bowl festivities. Below, we will discuss Texas drinking and driving laws, the consequences of DWI charges, and tips for avoiding a DWI charge during the Super Bowl weekend.
Is It Legal to Drink & Drive in Texas?
Intoxication is legally defined as either:
- having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or
- not having control of your mental or physical faculties because of the consumption of alcohol, drugs, a controlled substance, or a combination of those substances.
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits an offense when they operate a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. Violating this statute is considered a:
- Class B misdemeanor. A conviction of a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000, jail time of no more than a year but no less than 3 days, or both. If the accused had an open container of alcohol in their possession while operating the vehicle, the minimum confinement term is increased to 6 days.
- Class A misdemeanor (if the accused had an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more). A conviction of a Class A misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $4,000, jail time of no more than a year, or both.
An alleged offender can be charged with a state jail felony if they drink and drive (as previously defined) and have a passenger under 15 years old in the vehicle (see Texas Penal Code § 49.045). A state jail felony is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, confinement for no more than two years but no less than 180 days.
It is also important to note that driving while intoxicated and driving while intoxicated with a child passenger charges can be enhanced to a:
- Class A misdemeanor, if the accused was previously convicted of a drinking and driving, flying, or boating offense.
- Third-degree felony, if the accused was previously convicted of intoxication manslaughter or convicted two or more times of driving, boating, or flying while intoxicated.
Fans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk | Game Plan for Avoiding DWI Charges
Super Bowl Sunday is the second-highest food and beer consumption day in America—with Thanksgiving being first. It is believed that Americans drink around 325 million gallons (or 1,230,258,829.8 liters) of beer on Superbowl Sunday, and in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday, U.S. consumers spend approximately:
- $1.5 billion on craft beers, ciders, and malt-flavored beverages
- $597 million on wine
- $503 million on other alcoholic beverages (i.e. vodka, tequila, gin, etc.)
According to a study by Jerry (the car insurance company), the two most dangerous times to drive on Super Bowl are from 6-7 p.m. (which is when many fans “pre-game”) and 10-11 p.m. (which is around the time people start leaving parties). Even if you plan to drink or partake in Super Bowl festivities, you can have a game day plan to protect yourself (and others on the road) and avoid DWI charges.
If you plan to host a Super Bowl party, you can help ensure your guests make it home safely by:
- Reminding guests to arrange for a designated driver or ride-share driver to escort them home if they plan to drink
- Offering to drive some guests home (if you do not drink)
- Encouraging them to pace themselves and drink water
- Serving a lot of food and even non-alcoholic drinks
- Prohibiting the consumption of alcohol at the start of the 4th quarter
- Taking a drunk guest’s keys if they insist on driving
If you are going out on Super Bowl Sunday (to a sports bar or friend’s house), you can prevent yourself from accusations or arrests for driving while under the influence by:
- Leaving your keys at home and designating a sober driver (or using an Uber)
- Eating plenty of food and drinking a lot of water
- Monitoring the number of alcoholic drinks that you consume
- Alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
- Adhering to stadium rules by not drinking after the third quarter
Can I “Sleep It Off” in My Car to Avoid a DWI?
To avoid leaving your car parked overnight, you may consider taking a nap so that you can wake up sober up enough to drive home. However, you risk still being charged with a DWI if you sleep in your vehicle while drunk.
While there are clear definitions of intoxication and motor vehicle, the Texas Penal Code does not clearly define operating. Even if you are not found driving your vehicle, you still risk being arrested and convicted based on circumstantial evidence, including but not limited to:
- Your keys being in or near the ignition.
- Your vehicle being on or running.
- There are tire tracks (matching your treads) on the road nearby.
- Your tires are warm.
If you’ve been charged with a DWI-related offense, contact J. Roland Jeter, P.C. today—online or at (972) 330-4050. Attorney Jeter has over years of legal experience and is equipped to aggressively defend the rights and freedoms of his clients. He can work to dismiss or mitigate your charges and advise you of your best legal options.