Can a Passenger Get a DWI in Texas?
In Texas, a driver can be charged with a DWI by operating a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least .08 percent or while intoxicated by drugs and/or alcohol. However, it is possible that a passenger may also face DWI charges.
The prosecution must prove certain elements to obtain a DWI conviction. First, you were a driver of a motor vehicle. Next, you controlled and operated the vehicle in a public place. Lastly, you committed the act while impaired or intoxicated by alcohol and/or drugs.
The following are a few situations that might result in a DWI arrest for being a passenger in Texas:
Grabbing the steering wheel – If you and the driver are intoxicated and at any point during the drive, you reach over and grab the steering wheel in order to help the driver maintain proper lane position or avoid a crash, you technically operated the vehicle while impaired, no matter how long you steer.
Switching seats – Many people have tried to deceive the police by switching seats with a sober passenger to avoid being arrested for DWI. However, the officer may either notice the switch or suspect the intoxicated passenger is actually the one who was driving the vehicle prior to the traffic stop.
The officer didn’t see who was driving the vehicle – For example, if the police arrive at the scene of a car accident and the occupants in one vehicle are all under the influence. If no one in the vehicle admits to driving prior to the accident, then an officer may charge all the occupants with a DWI.
In addition, if you are a sober passenger and aware of the fact that the driver is under the influence, you could be charged with reckless endangerment because your reluctance to prevent a drunk person from operating a vehicle can be viewed as a form of negligence. If there is an open container or drugs in the vehicle, you could face additional charges.