Just like when a person operates a vehicle intoxicated by alcohol, driving a car while under the influence of drugs is illegal in all states in the U.S. You can get arrested for a DUI for driving on any drug including marijuana and legal prescription drugs. “According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2016 11.8 million people drove under the influence of illicit drugs.”
A study done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that “more than 18 percent of fatally injured drivers tested positive for at least one illegal or prescription drug in 2009.” Driving while under the influence of drugs is just as dangerous as driving drunk and is taken just as seriously by the law.
For this reason, law enforcement has ramped up DUI enforcement efforts in Texas, leading to many wrongful arrests.
Driving Under The Influence of Drugs In Texas
In the state of Texas driving under the influence of drugs is treated similarly to charges faced when arrested for driving a vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol. The Texas Penal Code defines intoxicated as “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.”
In the state of Texas, there is an implied consent for drug and alcohol tests if a police officer suspects you are driving while intoxicated. If you refuse to take a test, your refusal can be used against you and you can still face criminal charges. If an officer believes you are driving while under the influence and the blood or urine test comes up positive, then you will face Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges.
According to Texas DPS, the white male population is the demographic that is arrested the most for DUI. Of the nearly 90,000 DUI arrests a year that take place in Texas, most of them are alcohol-related. Even with a decreasing drug abuse arrest rate, there are still thousands of people a year charged with driving under the influence of drugs in the state of Texas.
Criminal Penalties For DUI In Texas
The penalties you can face if convicted of driving under the influence of drugs are the exact same as DWI for alcohol charges in the state of Texas. Since there are no intoxication levels with drugs any proof of influence will get you the same penalties as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher will. In Texas, the penalties get worse if you get charged with more than one DUI offense.
For a first DUI offense, you can face 3 to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine and get your driver’s license suspended for 90 to 365 days. For a second DUI offense, a person can face 30 days to 1 year in jail, up to a $4,000 fine and get their license taken away for 180 days to 2 years. If someone is charged with a third DUI offense they can face a minimum of two years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine and 180 days to 2 years of their driver’s license being suspended.
In addition to fines and jail time, a person convicted of driving under the influence of drugs can be ordered drug/alcohol treatment and/or probation. During probation, the defendant will have to regularly report to a probation officer who will make sure they are completing everything they need to do as ordered by law. In DUI cases, people convicted are often ordered drug tests, treatment and community service.
Potential DUI Defenses And Your Rights
DUI for drugs cases can be hard to win because according to the law if drugs are found in your system while driving you can be considered intoxicated. However, some drugs such as marijuana stay in your system longer than they can intoxicate someone. In some cases, a person will be found not to be intoxicated while driving even though a drug test showed narcotics in their system. In other cases, the drug test may have shown a false positive, meaning that the test said there were drugs in your system when there wasn’t. If you hire a lawyer to represent you, then they will be able to tell you what your best defense can be.
Need A Lawyer In Texas?
Getting a DUI charge can be a difficult and life-changing process. Having a lawyer to represent you can save you time, money and lots of headaches. During the DUI conviction process there are many hoops to jump through with the court system and the department of motor vehicles. A lawyer will stand by your side and help you through all of the legal hurdles your DUI charge will throw at you.