Murray v. State – Running Parked Car Insufficient to Prove “Operation” of Vehicle for DWI

Murray v. State, No 07-13-00356-CR (Texas. App. – Amarillo June 26, 2014) – The evidence at trial was legally insufficient to support a conviction of Murray Driving While Intoxicated. No direct or circumstantial evidence appeared of record enabling a reasonable fact finder to infer that Murray operated his vehicle while intoxicated. Conviction overturned.

The state must prove its DWI case beyond a reasonable doubt. The state must prove that Murray was “intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.” Texas Penal Code 49.04(a).

Here, DPS Troopers found Murray with his seat reclined in his truck, parked in a private driveway with the radio on. A portion of the truck extended into the shoulder of the roadway, but not the roadway. The truck’s transmission was in park, although the engine was running.

There were no open containers in or around the truck. It was unknown how long the vehicle had been there, and the trooper did not see the appellant operating the truck. Because the transmission was not engaged, there were no admissions by the appellant to driving, the truck was not actually in the roadway, the truck was not in a lane of traffic, and because there was no evidence that the appellant tried to “manipulate the vehicle’s controls,” there was not enough evidence for the State to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. There was no evidence as to when or how the truck ended up where it did, and therefore no evidence as to who was driving and whether he or she was intoxicated.

Murray’s DWI conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals

If you have been charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Galveston County, read our DWI page and call our office today. Calls are answered 24/7 by a live operator. Don’t wait; call today. 409-740-1111.

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