Can Possession of a Gun Heighten a DWI Charge?
People commonly refer to the act of operating a motorized vehicle while impaired by substances as driving while intoxicated (DWI). The United States considers DWI a criminal offense. In 2021 alone, the Texas Department of Public Safety reported 89,457 charges of DWI.
Intoxication with alcohol is not the only aspect of DWI. It’s also important to know that drugs can make driving unsafe. In both cases, the State of Texas considers DWI a serious offense that threatens public safety and is punishable by law.
If law enforcement pulls you over for DWI and finds a gun, they can increase your charges, making them more severe.
How does Law Enforcement Charge an Individual with a DWI?
Law enforcement uses different ways to figure out if a Texas driver is under the influence of substances. For signs of consumption of alcoholic beverages, officers often use breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. You will face a DWI charge if the amount of alcohol in your blood is at least 0.8%. For drug intoxication, there are also a variety of tests which include:
Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)
In the State of Texas, law enforcement uses Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) in determining intoxication levels. These tests include the Walk-and-Turn, One-Leg Stand, and Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. They will observe how drugs can affect a person’s ability to do simple actions like walking and balancing.
Drug Recognition Evaluation (DRE)
Law enforcement officers might suspect that you’re under the influence of drugs when they pull you over. In this case, they may bring in special officers called Drug Recognition Experts or DREs. They will then perform a thorough assessment to determine if drugs are affecting your driving skills.
Blood or Urine Tests
Officers of the law can also ask for a blood or urine test to determine if drugs are in your system. These tests can detect small amounts of drugs that are currently present in your body. However, these tests wouldn’t be able to tell if you’re currently impaired while driving.
Drug tests can detect drugs in a person’s body, but they don’t always prove that the person is impaired. Law enforcement can only determine impairment based on their observations and evidence during apprehension. And it is important to remember that the Texas doesn’t have a specific limit for drug impairment unlike alcohol intoxication.
Can Possession of a Gun Heighten a DWI Charge?
Texas has more lenient gun laws than other states. In Texas, it is legal to have a licensed firearm in your vehicle. However, this only extends to individuals who abide by the law. When pulled over for a DWI, having a gun in your possession would certainly heighten your charge.
According to Texas Penal Code § 46.035, carrying a handgun while intoxicated is unlawful. Regardless of the person possessing a license to carry (LTC) or not. This rule applies irrespective of whether you conceal the handgun or carry it in a shoulder or belt holster.
What Happens When Law Enforcement Pulls You Over for DWI While Having a Gun in your Possession?
If a police officer pulls you over for DWI, remain calm. If you have an LTC and gun in your possession, it is important to let the officer know about the details. The law mandates that failure to disclose this information can still lead to an arrest for unlawfully carrying a weapon.
If requested by the officer, you should surrender your firearm during the traffic stop. Whether you hand it over or authorities discover it when impounding your vehicle, they will confiscate the gun. The confiscation is not a long term punishment as they will return it to you after some time.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
If you’re in trouble for unlawful gun possession, it is really important to get help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer. They can give you important advice, guide you through the legal stuff, and represent you in court.
As an experienced criminal defense lawyer, I can look at all the facts of your case and investigate your charges. Then, I’ll strategize a strong defense plan specifically for your case. I can talk to the other side for you and stand up for your rights in court.
I will clarify the consequences of your conviction if you face charges for DUI. These consequences may include imprisonment, monetary penalties, or other forms of punishment. I’ll try to make sure the charges do not make a lasting impact on your life and future.
The whole criminal justice system can be really complex and scary. But having an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side can make a big difference. They can explain things to you, help you understand your options, and support you all throughout the legal process. They will review evidence, gather witness statements, and search for anything that could improve your situation.