Legendary pro-golfer Tiger Woods was arrested in Florida on Monday for suspicion of DUI (DWI in Texas). Woods was found asleep in his car and had “extremely slow and slurred speech,” according to the arresting officer. Woods was booked into jail around 7 am. He took a breath test and blew a .0.00. In a public statement, Woods said that the incident was due to an “unexpected reaction to prescribed medication.”
There are a couple issues that need to be clarified here. First, In Texas, under 49.04 of the penal code, to be convicted of DWI, one must “operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated.” The intoxicant can be alcohol, drugs or a combination of both. This must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. Legally taking prescribed medication and then having an “unexpected reaction” is not a defense to DWI.
Further, Woods was found asleep in his car. There may be an issue for the prosecutors here in what is called “wheeling the defendant.” In Texas, the State must prove that the defendant “operated” the vehicle. Operating is not defined in the penal code but courts has interrupted it to be broader than mere driving and can include an admission to driving by the defendant and/or other corroborating evidence such as the car in gear, defendant in the driver seat, defendant’s foot on the pedal, other witnesses that can place defendant behind the wheel and/or a host of other factors.
Also, drowsy driving in many ways mimics intoxication. It’s important for us to not jump to conclusions. The Constitution affords Mr. Woods rights and protections and one of the most important and sacred is the presumption of innocence.