Video: Can I be charged with DWI if the officer didn’t see me driving?

Attorney Benson Varghese discusses circumstantial DWI cases in this short video.

If a police officer saw you driving, there would be direct evidence that you operated the motor vehicle. If the officer did not see you driving, he can rely on other pieces of evidence that might suggest you were driving. An easy example is if another person saw you driving – that could be brought in as evidence; a 911 call that described your driving behavior and your vehicle might be brought into evidence.

Let’s talk about cases that might be even more circumstantial. Let’s say an officer comes up to you and your car is running but parked in a parking lot or parked along the side of the road. The officer might then use circumstantial evidence to argue that you were operating the motor vehicle. So for instance, if you’re on the side of the highway, an officer might say, “There’s no other way for you to get there but to have been driving.”

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When you’re in a parking lot it becomes more complicated because operation of a motor vehicle in Texas is not defined, but it does mean that you use the vehicle for its intended purpose. Getting into your vehicle on a cold night to turn on the heater is not using it for its intended purpose. On the other hand, if you were driving and just pulled off into a parking lot that driving was using it for its intended purpose.

Circumstantial cases can be made against you even when an officer does not see you driving. It’s important to consult with an attorney to see if that case can be made or if you have a strong argument that disproves your guilt.

We hope you found this information about circumstantial DWIs helpful. To learn more about DWIs in Texas, check out our DWI page.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese
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