The “Public Place” Requirement of DWI Law — How it Really Doesn’t Matter Anymore

Criminal Defense Lawyer | DWI, Drug, Theft & Assault Charges

By  Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal

(972) 369-0577

Texas Penal Code 49.04(a) is Texas’ DWI law and states, “A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.”

“Public place” means any place to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.  Tex.Pen.C. 1.07(40).

Obviously when the Texas legislature wrote the drunk driving law, for whatever reason only they truly know, they wanted to omit places that weren’t public… i.e. private places.  My guess (and that’s all it is) is that the legislature probably wanted to preserve Texan’s ability to consume alcohol while engaging in sport such as hunting or fishing on private property.

The Courts of Appeals have essentially written…

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