Texas takes driving while intoxicated (DWI) very seriously, whether caused by alcohol or drugs. If you have been charged with a DWI or drugged driving you may be afraid of how it will affect your driving record and ability to drive. You need an experienced Houston DWI defense attorney on your side. Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to learn how he can get you the best possible outcome.
Texas DWI Law
Most people think a DWI charge is always a result of drunk driving, but a driver may become impaired from a controlled substance or even a legally prescribed medication, known as drugged driving. In Texas, you can be arrested and charged with a DWI in two ways:
- You’re found to have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) above .08 percent
- You’re found to be intoxicated or impaired from any kind of drug or alcohol, regardless of BAC.
You may be considered “intoxicated” if you do not have normal use of your mental and physical faculties because of alcohol, a controlled substance, prescription medications, or any other substance in the body. Drugged driving can greatly affect your ability to safely operate a vehicle by altering the perception of speed and distances, reducing inhibitions, reducing recognition of danger and hazards, and dulling reactions. These impairments drastically increase the risk of an accident. If you have been charged with a DWI, seek the help of professional Houston criminal defense attorney Ned Barnett.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Marijuana is illegal in Texas. If a police officer finds that you are driving while impaired by marijuana, you may be charged with a DWI due to drugged driving. Unlike alcohol, which has an established limit, any amount of marijuana detected in your blood or urine is evidence of impairment. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana it is essential that you contact a Houston criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. The Law Offices of Ned Barnett can help.
Driving Under the Influence of Prescription Medication
There are many legally prescribed drugs that may cause you to be extremely drowsy, or that may affect your perception and reflexes. Although a medication may be safe to take as prescribed, it may not be safe to drive while you’re taking it.
A pharmacist may warn you not to drive or operate machinery while taking certain medications. Sometimes there are warning labels directly on the prescription package. However, even if you aren’t warned, you may still be held responsible for driving while impaired by that medication.
Additionally, it is possible for alcohol to alter or enhance a medication’s effects, causing you to be drowsy or more impaired than you would have been if you had only taken the medication or had a drink. The combination of such medications and alcohol may result in drugged driving.
Penalties for DWI convictions under Texas Penal Code Section 49.04 can be severe. If you are caught driving with a BAC of .08 percent or higher or while intoxicated by drugs, you may face serious incarceration, large fines, and driver’s license suspension.
First offenses may result in:
- A jail sentence of 72 hours to 180 days
- A $2,000 fine
- A 1-year driver’s license suspension
Second offenses may result in:
- A jail sentence of 30 days to 1 year
- A $4,000 fine
- A 2-year driver’s license suspension
Third and subsequent offenses may result in:
- A prison sentence of 2 to 10 years
- A $10,000 fine
- A 2-year driver’s license suspension
New laws in Texas have also implemented the option of a driver’s license suspension or the use of an ignition interlock device for some drivers. An ignition interlock device is a breathalyzer that is installed in a vehicle. Drivers must blow into the device for breath analysis, and if any alcohol is detected the vehicle will not start. An ignition interlock device can be costly to install and lease.
An experienced Houston criminal defense attorney can help you defend a drugged driving charge. For example, a police officer must have probable cause to pull you over, test you for intoxication, and arrest you. If he or she cannot prove that there was valid evidence to believe that a crime was being committed, any evidence collected thereafter might not be admissible in court.
Your attorney will investigate how you were questioned or tested for intoxication. If you were arrested for drugged driving, your lawyer will investigate the testing methods used and all evidence obtained. Evidence of a drug in your system is not necessarily automatic proof of impairment.
Defending a DWI charge can be complex due to nuanced criminal laws. In order to obtain the best possible outcome, contact The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for a free and confidential consultation.
If you have been convicted of a DWI for drugged driving, you will have a permanent criminal record. That record will follow you for the rest of your life. You will probably have to disclose this conviction on college, graduate school, and job applications. If you’re working to become a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or lawyer, you’ll have to prove to the governing bodies of those professions that your DWI conviction is not a true reflection of your ethics.
Call a Houston Drugged Driving Lawyer
If you’ve been arrested and charged with drugged driving, you need a knowledgeable and skilled attorney by your side. Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney. He knows the ins and outs of Texas law and will guide you through this process.
Call The Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 for a free consultation.