Driving while intoxicated is a Texas offense that covers more than just driving while under the influence of alcohol. The crimes and penalties for driving a vehicle (including boats, planes, and even amusement rides) also apply if the driver does not have the normal use of his/her physical or mental faculties by reason of the introduction of a:
- Controlled substance
- A drug
- A dangerous drug
- A combination of drugs and alcohol
What Amount of Drugs Is Required To Convict For Driving While Intoxicated In Texas?
Unlike driving under the influence of alcohol, there is no specific limit for the quantity of drugs in a driver’s body that can lead to an arrest.
There is also no breathalyzer test to determine a defendant’s drug level – though if the police officer suspects drugs and alcohol were both consumed, the officer will use a breathalyzer test for the alcohol part.
Whether a defendant consumed or used a sufficient amount of drugs to impair his/her driving is handled on a case-by-case basis.
Must A Driver Submit To A Drug Test?
The police officer may request a blood test, if the officer has reasonable suspicion the driver was under the influence of drugs while driving. Drivers in Texas give their implied consent to submit to a blood, urine, or saliva test to determine which drugs are in their system.
It is generally not a defense to argue that the drug was authorized by a physician. The idea is that the safety of all drivers, passengers, and pedestrians is paramount. Just as drinking alcohol is legal if you are over 18 years of age, taking medications is legal if the medication is prescribed or an over-the-counter drug.
But legal permission does not excuse taking drugs and driving. For example, many drugs even have warnings that use of the drugs may cause drowsiness.
If the driver refused to submit to the drug, the refusal can be used in the Texas criminal trial. Drivers who refuse to take the test though should understand that their license will be suspended for 180 days for first-time offenses and two years for subsequent offenses (within a ten-year period)– regardless of the outcome of the criminal case.
Still, if a driver has illegal drugs or dangerous drugs in his/her system, it may be easier to justify the refusal than the existence of the drugs.
The officer is required to inform you of the consequences for failing to submit to a chemical test. The officer is also required to give the notice of the consequences for failing to take the test in writing. The Texas police officer should also have the driver sign a statement that the driver has been warned and refused to take the test.
Other drug defenses may also apply:
- The drug test may not be timely. The drug test may be hours after the actual time of driving the vehicle. The legal test is whether the drugs caused the driver to impaired at the time of driving. Some drugs are known to take effect immediately while others have a delayed reaction. We may argue that the delay creates a reasonable doubt that the driver was not in control while he/she was driving.
- The police officer may not have had a reasonable suspicion to stop you. Police officers have to have some reason to believe you were not in control of your vehicle (or that you had committed a traffic offense). Lack of control can include speeding, changing lanes too often, reckless driving, driving in the wrong lane, and other control issues.
The police may have authority to take a drug test if:
- The driver was stopped because of an accident where someone was seriously injured or died.
- If the driver has two prior DWI convictions
- If he driver had one prior DWI conviction and there was a child in the car
- If the driver was found unconscious or if they were found dead.
Which Drugs Are Forbidden?
Controlled substances are set forth in the Texas statues. Dangerous drugs or drugs can include legally prescribed drugs or over-the-counter drugs if the drugs are likely to cause the driver to lose physical or mental control of his/her vehicle.
Talk To A Respected Texas DUI Lawyer Today
There are defenses to being charged with driving due to intoxication caused by drugs. There are also arguments that can be made that can help reduce the charges brought against you. A DUI caused by drug use does carry the risk of significant time in jail.
For answers to your questions and strong legal advocacy, please call the criminal defense lawyers at Scott M. Brown and Associates. You can phone us at 281-972-4386 or complete our online form. We have locations in Angleton, League City and Pearland.