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Can I get a DWI if I were driving on private property?

Houston, TX |

Since the law says that DWI can only be charged if happened on public road or property. Thanks

Attorney Answers 8

  1. Yes, as to "public place." That doesn't mean that you don't have a ton of ways to challenge your arrest. There are numerous DWI attorneys in Houston. Use the FIND A LAWYER tab and start interviewing some immediately, as you only have a short window to keep your license.

    Here's some case law if you're interested:
    "…Texas courts have held that even areas that strictly limit public access may qualify as public places. When determining whether an area is a public place, the relevant inquiry is whether the public or a substantial group of the public has access to the place in question. Banda v. State, 890 S.W.2d 42, 52 (Tex. Crim. App. 1994); Shaub v. State, 99 S.W.3d 253, 256 (Tex. App.–Fort Worth 2003, no pet.). The level of access does not need to be complete or entirely unrestricted, provided members of the public could gain access under the right set of circumstances. See State v. Gerstenkorn, 239 S.W.3d 357, 359 (Tex. App.–San Antonio 2007, no pet.) (holding that gated community “with a security guard and limited access” was public place); Woodruff, 899 S.W.2d at 445 (holding that street in Air Force base was public place). Indeed, “[a]uthority exists for the proposition that ‘if the public has any access to the place in question, it is public.’” Woodruff, 899 S.W.2d at 445-46 (quoting 6 Michael B. Charlton, Texas Criminal Law ß 1.6 (Texas Practice 1994)…”

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  2. It doesn't matter if it's private property or public property. The relevant legal question is whether a substantial amount of the public has access to it.

    Macy Jaggers's answer to a legal question on Avvo does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Ms. Jaggers offers everyone a free consultation to discuss their case. Feel free to call her office at 214-365-9800 to make an appointment (phones are answered 24 hours) or visit her website at for more information about her services and recent victories.

  3. Wrong-wish it were so, but generally it doesn't matter if property is public or private. There are exceptions, so you need to consult with an experienced DWI attorney.

  4. What do you mean by "private property"? Generally speaking, most parking lots--while technically "private property"--would be places where a DWI can be charged. A private ranch with private access gates is at the other end of the spectrum. You should contact an attorney to help you out because it sounds like this is a fact-specific inquiry.

    The above is for academic purposes and is not intended as legal advice. The response does not constitute the creation of an attorney client relationship as this forum does not provide for a confidential communication.

  5. The answer is maybe. It depends on what type of private property this is and its characteristics. Challenging this is something only a knowledgeable attorney should undertake.

    This statement is intended for general information and does not form at attorney/client relationship.

  6. Yes, you can. The meaning of public road / place does not necessarily exclude private property. The following types of private property have been considered public places for DWI purposes: parking lots (including fully-enclosed apartment lots with a call box for non-resident entry), gated communities (even where a guard is present and public access is limited), private roads, marinas, military bases, and closed parks. Each of these can be considered a public place. Whether or not they are in any particular case depends on such factors as the degree of public access the circumstances under which the public can enter the property.

    Although every day, common sense English and “Law English” share the same words, they are often two different languages.

    Paul Kendall 713-858-1519 Attorney Paul Kendall's answer to this question is for information purposes only. The answer is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship between Paul Kendall and the person who asked the question or anyone reading the answer. Paul Kendall offers initial consultations at no charge.

  7. In Oregon, a person can be charged with Driving Under the Influence even if driving on private property since the law applies to "premises open to the public" in addition to public "highways."

  8. Ask a Texas DWI lawyer.

    In North Carolina, you could receive a DWI on a "street, highway, or public vehicular area." This is broadly defined and basically includes any area that the public travels. See N.C.G.S. 20-4.01(32)(a).

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