The State of Texas has extremely lenient gun laws, compared to other states, but that leniency only extends to law-abiding citizens. If you’ve been pulled over for a DWI or DUI and there is a gun in your vehicle, you are in for trouble.
It’s lawful to have a gun in your car, truck, or boat UNLESSyou are breaking the law, and if you are driving drunk or under the influence of drugs, you are breaking the law.
- DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) is a criminal charge brought against drivers under the age of 21 who have been pulled over for operating a vehicle in a public place “with any detectable amount of alcohol in the minor’s system.”
- DWI (driving while intoxicated) is a criminal charge brought against people 21 and older who are operating a motor vehicle in a public place “while lacking normal physical and mental faculties” due to alcohol consumption, with a blood alcohol level of .08% or more. You could also be charged if the police suspect you of using a controlled substance (drugs).
If you’ve been pulled over for any traffic violation more serious than a Class C misdemeanor (such as a moving violation), and the police find a gun in your car, you can be charged with the separate crime of Unlawful Carry of a Weapon (UCW)(Texas Code §46.03).
Every DUI/DWI charge in Texas is at least a Class B misdemeanor so it’s almost certain you will face that additional charge.
The penalties for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon can be up to 1 year in a county jail, and a fine of up to $4,000. If you have a gun in your car and you take it out in a prohibited area (like near a bar, a school, a courthouse, or a polling place), you could face 3rddegree felony charges for Unlawful Carry of a Weapon.
What Happens When You Are Pulled Over for DWI with a Gun?
If you have a license to carry (LTC) you must tell the officer that pulls you over that you have a firearm if there is one in the vehicle. You can still be arrested for unlawfully carrying a weapon but the law requires this disclosure.
If the officer suspects that you are impaired, you will be asked to exit your vehicle and to submit to a breathalyzer and field sobriety test. If you fail either of those tests or show other signs of intoxication or impairment, you will likely be arrested, and your vehicle impounded.
If the officer asks for your gun during the stop, surrender your gun. Whether you surrender it, or it’s found when your vehicle is impounded, it will be confiscated but will be returned to you.
However, you will not be able to carry it while your DWI case is pending or if you are convicted of DWI/DUI.
Will a DWI Conviction Affect Your Right to Carry?
Yes, if you are convicted of a (Class A or Class B misdemeanor) DWI or DUI you lose your right to carry a gun outside of your home, car or office for five years (Texas Code §411.172). However, you retain your right to own your gun.
Even if you qualified for deferred adjudication (pled no contest to avoid a conviction), you are still disqualified from carrying a gun for five years.
A third or subsequent DWI conviction is a felony, and you lose your right to buy, own or possess a firearm, indefinitely.
Can You Buy a Gun If You’ve Had a DWI in the Past?
You can still buy a gun in Texas if you have not had a felony conviction and are not currently charged with a Class B or Class A misdemeanor, or any criminal charge that could result in jail time of more than a year.