Most people associated the crime of driving while intoxicated (DWI) under Texas Penal Code § 49.04 with violations of the first definition of intoxicated provided by Texas Penal Code § 49.01(2), having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more. Intoxicated, however, is also defined 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.”
The other definition is usually invoked in cases involving drivers are accused of driving under the influence of prescription drugs. Prescription drug DWI cases are far more complicated than alcohol because there are not statutory maximums for prescription medications, so it can be very difficult to prove that consumption of a certain amount actually affected a person’s ability to drive.
If you or your loved one were arrested for a DWI related to prescription drugs in the greater Fort Worth area, you will want to be sure that you quickly retain legal counsel. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to determine the best way for you to fight your charges.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy handles many kinds of DWI cases involving drugs in Tarrant County. Call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to take advantage of a free consultation.
Texas Penal Code § 49.04 establishes that a person commits DWI when they are intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place. DWI is a Class B misdemeanor.
A prescription drug DWI cases could involve any one or multiple kinds of prescription medications. Some of the most frequent kinds of drugs involved in these cases include, but are not limited to:
Different prescription drugs have different symptoms. When listed side effects on warning labels include risks associated with driving, you can bet the prosecutor is going to mention this at trial.
A DWI is usually a Class B misdemeanor when a person has no prior DWI convictions. For a first offense, a conviction can be punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Even when you are charged with a prescription drug DWI for the first time, all prior DWI convictions, including alcohol-related offenses, can be counted against you. A second DWI is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $4,000.
When a prescription drug DWI is a third or subsequent DWI offense, it is a third-degree felony. A conviction is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Penal Code Section § 49.10 specifically states that the fact that the defendant is or has been entitled to use a drug is not a defense. A person could still argue that their use of a prescription medication did not create any impairment affecting their ability to drive.
Medical experts could be consulted and asked to testify to support your claims. In many cases, video taken on dashboard cameras may provide additional support that a person did not appear to be legally intoxicated.
Drivers on Prescription Drugs Are Hard to Convict — Learn more about the difficulties that prosecutors have obtaining convictions in prescription drug DWI cases in this July 2010 New York Times article. As the article notes, prosecutors in drugged-driving cases rely heavily on the testimony of “drug recognition experts” (DREs) even though there are only about 7,000 such officers nationwide. “Because most people on the jury will also likely be taking prescription drugs for some ailment, whether it’s Lipitor or allergy pills or whatever it might be, they might think, ‘I don’t want that to become criminal,’” Maryland attorney general Douglas F. Gansler told the Times.
Methods for Defending Against Drug DWI Charges and the New Age of Discovery — This document was presented at the State Bar of Texas 40th Annual Advanced Criminal Law Course in 2014. It discusses drug recognition evaluators (DREs) and addresses DRE specific defenses. You can also learn about the seven systemic biases in DECP studies and defenses based on Texas case law.
Were you or your loved one arrested for an alleged DWI involving prescription drugs in Fort Worth or another community in Tarrant County? You are right to want to fight the criminal charges and you do not have to do it alone.
The Law Offices of Richard C. McConathy will work tirelessly to protect your rights and help you achieve the most favorable possible outcome to your case. We can provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case when you call (817) 422-5350 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.