Texas Penal Code 31.07 – Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle
WHAT IS UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
The Texas law against unauthorized use of a vehicle, commonly abbreviated as “UUMV,” is the use of another’s boat, plane, or motor vehicle without permission.
Unlike theft, a person may be arrested for unauthorized use of a vehicle without proof that the person unlawfully appropriated another’s vehicle with the intent to deprive the owner. A person may be charged with UUMV even if the person intends to return the vehicle, as long as it was taken or used without the owner’s consent.
WHAT IS THE UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 31.07. UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE.
(a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly operates another’s boat, airplane, or motor-propelled vehicle without the effective consent of the owner.
(b) An offense under this section is a state jail felony.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
Unauthorized use of a vehicle is a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to two years in a state jail facility.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
The punishment range for unauthorized use of a vehicle, a state jail felony, is between 180 days and two years in a state jail facility, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
A person charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle may be eligible for deferred adjudication after a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to a judge, which is not a felony conviction. The deferred adjudication period will be between two and five years, with the possibility of extending it for up to ten years.
A person convicted of unauthorized use of a vehicle may also be eligible for probation community supervision, for a period between two and five years. If a person is placed on probation, it is a felony conviction that prohibits firearm possession, among other collateral consequences.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
The statute does not authorize specific defenses to unauthorized use of a vehicle. A person accused thereof may attempt to negate one of the elements the State must prove at trial.
The prosecution must prove the accused knew he or she was using another’s vehicle without the owner’s or lessee’s consent. This means a person on trial for unauthorized use of a vehicle commonly argues he did not know he lacked the owner’s consent, also known as the mistake-of-fact defense.
- Can a person be charged with UUMV if the person did not know he was driving a stolen vehicle? If a jury believes a defendant did not know he was driving a stolen vehicle, they must acquit the defendant due to a reasonable mistake of fact that negates the required culpable mental state to commit the offense.In Richardson v. State, a defendant driving a stolen car was stopped by police, and arrested for UUMV. He testified at trial that he bought the car at a salvage yard, received two sets of keys, and was told he would need to secure a salvage title. He had not done so by the time he was stopped, but had a handwritten bill of sale and a receipt for repairs. The appellate court reversed the conviction, holding the evidence was insufficient to show the defendant knew he was driving a stolen vehicle without the owner’s consent.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for unauthorized use of a vehicle, a state jail felony, is three years.
UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE IN TEXAS
Unauthorized use of a vehicle means using another’s vehicle, motorcycle, watercraft, or plane without permission. Even purchasing a vehicle stolen by another may be charged as UUMV, as long as there is sufficient proof the purchaser knew the vehicle was stolen.
TEXAS UNAUTHORIZED USE OF A VEHICLE COURT CASES
The case law regarding unauthorized use of a vehicle in Texas shows, under most circumstances, a person must exercise reasonable care and due diligence when using another’s vehicle, or purchasing a vehicle. Even if a person ultimately shows he did not know the vehicle was stolen, it still puts the person at risk of being arrested for UUMV.
- Circumstantial evidence may show a person knew he was operating a vehicle without consent. In Brumfield v. State, the defendant was stopped while driving a U-Haul truck that had been reported stolen a week earlier. The defendant claimed he got the U-Haul from a friend of a friend, and did not know it was stolen. However, the only key to the U-Haul was at the facility from which it was stolen, the defendant told police he had to have a wrecker service open the truck before he could drive it, and his story became inconsistent. The evidence was sufficient to show he knew he lacked consent to drive the U-Haul.
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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