While driving while intoxicated (DWI) is usually associated with people getting behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol, it is important to understand the state definition of intoxicated also includes provisions relating to the use of drugs. One of the most common kinds of drugs to result in DWI charges is marijuana.
Police are often very quick to call attention to any odor of marijuana in a motor vehicle, and people arrested for DWI often face possession of marijuana charges in addition to the drugged driving offense. Even when no marijuana is found within a vehicle, a person who admits to having smoked marijuana can still be arrested for Marijuana DWI possibly several hours after they actually smoked marijuana.
Marijuana DWI Defense Lawyer in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine, Keller, and Southlake, TX
Were you or your loved one arrested for a DWI involving marijuana in the Fort Worth area? Find yourself an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible at the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
Our firm can fight to possibly get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed and we can discuss your rights with you as soon as you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Marijuana DWI Charges in Tarrant County
Under Texas Penal Code § 49.04, a person commits the crime of DWI when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. Intoxicated is defined under Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2) as meaning having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or “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.”
DWI is normally a Class B misdemeanor, but a marijuana DWI involving a passenger who is younger than 15 years of age will result in DWI with child passenger charges. DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony.
All prior DWI convictions can also be counted against you, even if they are alcohol-related. A second DWI offense is a Class A misdemeanor and a third or subsequent offense is a third-degree felony.
Alleged offenders often submit to chemical testing, usually urine tests although blood tests could be ordered in some cases. Penalties for refusal to submit to breath testing in alcohol-related DWI cases also apply to a refusal to submit to drug testing.
Marijuana DWI Penalties in Texas
A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or fines of up to $2,000. A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000. A third-degree felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000.
Marijuana possession penalties depend on the amount of marijuana allegedly possessed. Texas classifies these crimes as follows:
- 2,000 Pounds or More — First-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up-to 99 years or life in prison.
- 2,000 Pounds or Less But More than 50 Pounds — Second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to 20 years in prison.
- 5 Pounds or Less but More Than 4 Ounces — Third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up-to 10 years in prison.
- 2 Ounces or More but Less Than 4 Ounces — Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and/or up-to one year in jail.
- 2 Ounces or Less — Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up-to 180 days in jail.
Marijuana DWI Defenses in Fort Worth
Many marijuana-related DWI charges will be based on an alleged offender’s admitted use of marijuana. People who did not admit to consuming any marijuana may be able to argue they were not under the influence of the drug even when a test shows them as positive for marijuana.
Keep in mind that chemical tests only demonstrate that drugs are in a person’s system, but they do not necessarily indicate that the drugs were active at the time of an alleged offense. An experienced lawyer will be able to call attention to the flaws in a prosecutor’s argument and create the reasonable doubt needed to help you avoid a conviction.
Fort Worth Marijuana and DWI Resources
Does marijuana use affect driving? | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — Learn more about the effects of marijuana on driving on this NIDA website page. Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes. A large case-control study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found no significant increased crash risk attributable to cannabis but several meta-analyses of multiple studies found that the risk of being involved in a crash significantly increased after marijuana use.
Marijuana | DEA — This United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website page is dedicated to marijuana. You can find information about what marijuana is, how it is used, and common street names. You can also download a fact sheet and learn about its effects on the body.
Find A Tarrant County Defense Attorney for Marijuana DWI | Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy
If you or your loved one were arrested for an alleged DWI involving marijuana in Fort Worth or another community in Tarrant County, it will be very important for your to quickly find legal representation. Do not delay in contacting the Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy.
Our firm regularly handles all kinds of DWI cases involving controlled substances. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to receive a consultation.
Yes, marijuana remains illegal in Texas, although a law legalizing hemp in 2019 led to marijuana prosecutions in Texas plummeting by more than half in the six months after the law was enacted. While many police departments lack the equipment needed to determine the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in alleged marijuana to distinguish it from hemp, it remains likely that law enforcement will continue to arrest individuals for alleged marijuana possession offenses.
The possible disciplinary measures of a court in a marijuana case will depend on multiple factors, largely the amount of marijuana that was allegedly possessed. A person’s prior criminal record could also impact penalties in marijuana cases. In general, the most common kinds of penalties are usually fines and imprisonment, but additional penalties could include driver’s license suspensions and other punishments.
Police officers can arrest individuals who they believe were in knowing possession of marijuana, and possession may be actual or constructive. Actual possession is when marijuana is found on the person of an individual, whether it is in their pocket or their hands. Constructive possession means that a person could be accused of possession when marijuana is found in an area accessible to multiple people.
The record of the arrest could be public and be available to many people who perform background checks. While an arrest is not the same as a conviction, it can still appear on a criminal record and have possible negative complications for employment applications or college-related efforts.
Many marijuana cases are thrown out when police officers violate the rights of alleged offenders in their encounters with them. An unlawful search and seizure is one of the most common defenses against any drug charge because when police seize evidence unlawfully, it is prohibited from being used as evidence by a prosecutor and they are subsequently left without anything to pursue a case with.
A lawyer is immediately going to be able to conduct their own investigation into the arrest and determine the strongest possible defenses in your case. The attorney will know what kinds of evidence to seek out and how to use certain elements to your advantage. When you have a lawyer, they will also be more comfortable negotiating with a prosecutor to achieve a reduction in or dismissal of criminal charges.
A prosecutor must prove your guilt for any marijuana crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is an exceptionally high bar to satisfy. You can achieve a not guilty verdict by simply giving a jury enough reason to doubt any element of a prosecutor’s case. An acquittal can be achieved through a dedicated effort to attack every element of the case against you.
Community service is one of the most common kinds of punishments for alleged offenders instead of prison sentences. It is also possible that a person could be sentenced to a term of probation in which they have to check in regularly with a probation officer. Court-ordered participation in a drug treatment program could also be possible in some cases.
Your employment situation will depend on how aggressively your employer enforces drug convictions. Some employers may have no tolerance for these kinds of issues and could terminate you just for an arrest, but other employers may not conduct any kind of background check needed to uncover the violation.
The answer will again depend on the school, as some colleges vigorously enforce their codes of conduct while others are far more lenient. Suspensions and expulsions are possible in some cases.