Texas Driving While Intoxicated law is not limited to prohibiting driving while under the influence of alcohol. While many people think of DWI as “drunk driving,” there are equally serious penalties for “drugged driving.” In fact, “drugged driving” is covered under the overall DWI law in Texas, Penal Code Section 49.01. This law prohibits the operation of a vehicle while intoxicated. Under Texas law, “intoxicated” means having impaired mental or physical faculties because of “alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance.”
This means that in Texas, it is DWI if your driving is influenced by a drug. There is no specific amount of drugs in a blood or urine test in Texas that determines culpability for DWI. Instead, a case-by-case test involving various types of evidence is used in DWI cases related to drugged driving.
Texas law prohibits driving under the influence of any controlled substance. This can be a legally-prescribed, fully legal prescription drug that you are taking on the advice of your physician. Your legal right to consume the drug is not a controlling factor in your liability for DWI drugged driving in Texas.
The principle behind the drugged driving laws is that consuming some substances can make you a more dangerous driver by impairing your motor skills, quick reactions or personal judgment. The drugs in question can range from illegal drugs like marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine to legal prescription drugs like Xanax, Ambien, Oxycodone or Adderall. You could even be held accountable for DWI for legal over-the-counter substances if they are considered intoxicating.
Blood tests can be used in drugged driving cases; because there are no clear standards for intoxication and many drugs remain detectable in the blood even after their influence has long faded, additional evidence may be used as well. In Texas, if you are arrested for DWI, you are deemed to have given “implied consent” to blood as well as breath tests for drugs and alcohol. In addition, police can obtain a search warrant for a blood test, in which case it is not legal to refuse.
A first-time offender charged with DWI in Texas would face a class B misdemeanor, with penalties including three to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, mandatory community service and license suspension. In addition, if a blood test shows signs of the use of illegal drugs, you could also face charges related to drug possession, which could carry increased penalties.
If you are facing drugged driving charges in Texas, contact an experienced DWI attorney who can help to defend your rights and protect your interests. Experienced lawyers can help comb through the evidence in your DWI case and expose bad science related to drug use or poor evidence of intoxication.