A DWI is not necessarily the same as drunk driving. A DWI in Texas could include intoxication by drugs, a controlled substance, or combination of substances. Drug DWI arrests are becoming more common in Texas. However, many innocent drivers end up facing criminal drug DWI charges because of faulty drug testing, police officers who have trouble identifying the signs and symptoms of drug impairment, and tests that show the presence of drugs long after the effects have worn off.
Drug DWI in Texas can include not just street drugs like methamphetamines or cocaine, but also marijuana that individual's use for medical reasons, prescription drugs, or even over-the-counter medications. If you are a driver who was accused of driving while high, contact an Odessa DWI lawyer to understand your rights and fight a criminal conviction.
Drug Impairment and Driving Laws in Texas
Texas driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws address alcohol, controlled substances, and a combination of drugs and alcohol. Under Texas Penal Code, Section 49, the term “intoxicated” can mean: “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”
Signs of Drug Use Police are Looking For
When the police or state trooper conduct a traffic stop, they may be looking for any signs of impairment, including the use of alcohol and/or drugs. These signs may include:
- Bloodshot eyes,
- Slurred speech,
- Rapid speech,
- Dilated pupils,
- Rambling speech,
- Drowsiness, or
Unfortunately, these signs can also indicate other issues unrelated to drug or alcohol use. Medical problems, temperature, and weather, or even being nervous about getting pulled over by the police may look to some officers like signs of drug use. If the police officer did not have a valid reason to make the arrest, the driver may be able to challenge the legality of the initial arrest.
Drug Testing After a DWI Arrest
The evidence used in a drug DWI case generally includes the chemical test results showing a positive presence of drug or drug indicators in the body. There is currently no breath testing device for a drug DWI, which means the police will generally have to rely on a blood test. A blood draw will be tested for the presence of certain drugs in the body.
Unfortunately, these tests are not always accurate. There are a number of things that can give inaccurate test results and put a driver's liberty at risk. This problems with drug tests include:
- Improper handling of the samples,
- Improper calibration or cleaning of the machine,
- Other foods showing up as false-positives, or
- Police misconduct.
Prescription Drug DWI
Many drivers are surprised to learn that they can be arrested for driving while using medication that a doctor prescribed. However, Texas DWI law does not limit drugged driving to illegal drugs. Under Texas Penal Code, Section 49.10, the law specifically states that it is not a defense to a DWI if the defendant is entitled to use the controlled substance or drug.
Any substance that impairs the normal use of mental or physical faculties can be considered in a DWI arrest. Some drugs that can impair motor ability include:
- Anti-anxiety drugs;
- Sleep aids;
- Diet pills;
- Cough medication; or
Marijuana and DWI
The evidence of consuming marijuana can stay in the body for long after the effects of the drug have worn off. However, the prosecutor may still try and use a positive drug test for marijuana as evidence that the driver was impaired at the time of the arrest. An experienced Texas DWI attorney can challenge the drug test evidence in marijuana cases to dispute the prosecutor's evidence that the driver was impaired.
Medical marijuana does not get special treatment when it comes to DWI. Even if a doctor recommended marijuana or the driver got medical marijuana in another state, just because a doctor recommended it does not mean the driver will not be arrested if he or she was impaired while driving. Talk to your DWI lawyer about ways to fight a marijuana DWI charge and keep your license to drive.
Texas Drug and Alcohol DWI Lawyer
Talking to an experienced Texas DWI defense attorney can help you understand that just because you were arrested for a drug DWI does not mean you have to be convicted. Your lawyer can build a defense that gives you the best shot at a favorable outcome, including keeping your license and avoiding a criminal record. If you've been charged with a drug DWI, Odessa, Texas, the Law Office of E. Jason Leach, PLLC is here to fight for you.
E. Jason Leach is a Board Certified criminal defense attorney that has dedicated his law practice to defending the accused. To set up a free consultation contact the Law Office of E. Jason Leach today at (432) 552-7000.