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Motorcycle DWI: What You Need to Know

Updated: Jul 9, 2023 @ 3:00 pm

Less than 1 minute Reading Time: Minutes

Texas has more than 380,000 registered motorcyclists. It’s not hard to understand why so many people are enthusiastic about getting around on two wheels. We’ve got great weather, exciting scenery, and miles of open road. Unfortunately, too many bikers combine riding with alcohol or drugs, and they face criminal charges when they get pulled over. At Tad Nelson, we can assist anyone facing DWI charges. Contact us to learn more.

Is the Motorcycle DWI Law Different from the Regular DWI Law?

No. It’s the same law. Texas Penal Code § 49.04 applies to someone operating a motor vehicle on the public roads. And the law defines motor vehicle to include any device for transporting on the highway, which means it includes motorcycles.

The legal limit is the same as well: you can’t be over 0.08 if you are 21 or older. A CDL holder can’t be over 0.04. Furthermore, you can be convicted regardless of your BAC if you have drugs and/or alcohol in your system and have lost your normal faculties.

How Do Police Spot a Suspected Drunk Motorcyclist?

Police are usually looking for visual cues that show you can’t control your bike:

  • Wide turns—these suggest you don’t have normal coordination, which is why you can’t turn normally.
  • Constant braking (“brake checking”)—many impaired motorcyclists are afraid of being stopped for speeding, so they constantly hit the brakes.
  • Wobbling—a drunk biker whose balance is impaired will wobble on the bike, especially if stopped at a light.
  • Drifting outside of your lane—this also suggests a biker has lost coordination or cannot see properly. Even worse, a drunk motorcyclist might be nodding off briefly, which can cause someone to drift.
  • Running a red light—many impaired motorists don’t see the light or can’t brake in time, so they go right through the intersection.
  • Difficulty dismounting the motorcycle—once parked, a drunk motorcyclist can struggle to use the kickstand and might fall when trying to balance their weight on one leg.
  • Lack of attention to surroundings—a drunk motorcyclist could almost hit an animal that runs into the road or even a pedestrian because of impaired observation.

Other suspicious behavior includes operating the motorcycle without lights on or following someone too closely.

What Punishment Will I Face?

It depends on several factors. Generally, a first-time DWI is a Class B misdemeanor, which can result in a one-year license suspension, a maximum 180 days in jail, and a fine. At a minimum, you should expect to spend 72 hours in confinement. If you had an open container in your possession, then you can expect to spend at least 6 days in confinement.

There are other considerations. For example, this might not be your first DWI offense. If you already have a conviction, then you are facing a minimum 30 days in jail. And remember, any DWI offense—even a prior conviction for driving a car or operating a boat while intoxicated—will count as a prior.

Another factor is your BAC. If it is .15 or higher, then you can face a Class A misdemeanor even if this is your first offense, which means up to a year in jail.

Will You Have to Install an Ignition Interlock Device?

Possibly. Some people wrongly think they only install these devices on four-door sedans. You must install them on any vehicle you use, otherwise you can’t drive the vehicle during your suspension.

How Do You Defend a Motorcycle DWI?

A motorcycle is inherently less stead than a four-wheel car. The fact that you were driving erratically or drifted over the center line isn’t really proof you couldn’t control the bike. Maybe you hit a pothole or a piece of road debris, which caused you to briefly lose control. What the officer assumed was intoxication was instead the inherent instability of a two-wheel vehicle.

The bike itself might be unsteady. Maybe you haven’t had necessary repairs done, which is why the motorcycle didn’t brake properly or why it was wobbling when you idled. These factors can undermine the reason the cop stopped you in the first place.

The best defense will depend on the state’s proof of intoxication. Did you consent to a blood draw or breath test? Then we’ll need to look closely at how your sample was handled. It’s much harder to beat a DWI charge if you blew a high number.

Contact Our DWI Defense Attorney for Assistance

Tad Nelson and his team are committed to ensuring those accused of DWI receive a fair shake. Our consultations are free.

Houston DWI Lawyer Tad A Nelson is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the TBLS.

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