It’s common for people to associate driving while intoxicated (DWI) solely with alcohol. Texas law would, however, disagree with you. You could be charged with DWI for driving impaired on a controlled substance since the effects are similar to inebriation. A controlled substance can still lead to a high blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) like alcohol. The majority of controlled substances inhibit your motor controls and can affect your driving. Even driving after taking some prescription drugs can lead to a DWI. If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI involving drugs, it’s imperatnive you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
In 2016, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involved drug-use. Texas has decided to combat this with stringent DWI laws. If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI, it’s crucial you seek legal representation. The attorneys at Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. have handled numerous DWI cases in Texas.
They’re passionate about criminal defense and will use their knowledge in DWI law to assist you. Call Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. today at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case consultation. Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. represents clients throughout the greater Houston area including River Oaks, Uptown, Pasadena and West University Place. Overview of Drug Impaired DWI in Texas
Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a serious charge under Texas law. Many believe it only incorporates alcoholic beverages, but the truth is you could be charged for driving under the influence of drugs as well. The Texas Penal Code § 49.04 states you’re committing DWI if you:
It’s much easier to detect a person is inebriated from alcohol. Law enforcement use chemical tests to measure BAC and field sobriety tests to assess your physical and mental faculties. With drugs, it can get a little more complicated.
Police officers will often default to urine or blood analysis if they suspect drug-impaired driving. Urinalysis will identify drugs through a urine sample. However, the process is by no means perfect. Urine test results often bring up substances you used days or weeks ago because they’re still in your system. For example, you could have marijuana in your system for up to two weeks even if you’re not a heavy user. The metabolites and other chemicals will still remain in your body days or even weeks after you consumed the drug. You could be charged with DWI because the drugs you used days ago appeared on you results. A blood draw is the most accurate test when it comes to drug use. Even then, it still has problems. Lab technicians could make human errors which could lead to a false positive. In some cases, the equipment used at the crime lab is outdated and your results can come back incorrect. A common question for attorney is if you should submit to DWI testing. Most attorneys would answer no, you shouldn’t comply with DWI testing. Law enforcement can detect drugs in your system through urine or blood analysis. Additionally, submitting to chemical testing will increase your chances of reducing or dismissing your charges. The prosecution heavily relies on DWI testing results to make a conviction. A refusal will make their job difficult because they will have to rely on circumstantial and objective evidence. Because of this, it’s highly advised you refuse DWI testing.
Drug-impaired driving has the same legal consequences as an alcohol-related DWI. The penalties will depend on if you have prior DWI convictions or the circumstances of the DWI. The chart below lists the maximum statutory penalties for DWI.
|Number of Offenses:||Offense Level:||Jail/Prison Time:||Fine:|
|Class B Misdemeanor||Minimum of 72 hours in jail; maximum of 180 days in jail||
|Class A Misdemeanor||
Minimum of 30 days in jail; maximum of 12 months in jail
|Third Offense||Third-Degree Felony||Minimum of 2 years in prison; maximum of 10 years in prison||
A judge could add conditions to your sentencing if you are convicted of DWI. You must complete these conditions as a part of your legal punishment. Some of these conditions include:
Aggravating factors could reclassify your DWI into the next higher level of offense. If you have a child passenger in the car during the offense, then your DWI is a state jail felony. A state jail felony is punishable by:
Texas has developed a new way for law enforcement to detect drug use. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) developed a curriculum which instructs police officers on how to identify people under the influence of drugs. Successfully completing the program will earn a police officer the title of Drug Recognition Expert (DRE). DRE utilizes a 12-step procedure to determine if a person has used drugs, which include:
Drugged Driving – Visit Get Smart About Drugs, a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) resource for educators and parents. Access the site to find infograms surrounding drug-impaired driving, DWI statistics and answers to frequently asked questions. Impaired Driving Statistics – Visit the official website of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to statistics detailing DUI and DWI incidents. Access the site to learn how frequent drug-related DWI is, the cost of DWI per year and what are the effects of BAC.
If you or someone you know has been charged with drug-related DWI, it’s vital you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Law enforcement can still detect drug-use through chemical testing. Not only this, but they now have Drug Recognition Experts who can identify drug use through their training. Don’t take your chances with DWI charges.
Call Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. to gain trusted legal representation today. Our firm prides themselves on providing quality legal service to all clients. We can discuss your charges and start the first steps of your defense plan. Contact us at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a free consultation. Tyler Flood & Associates, Inc. defends clients throughout the greater Harris County area including Bellaire, Houston, West University Place and Pasadena.
This article last updated on March 7th, 2019.