Many people in Texas assume that they cannot be convicted of a DWI for prescription medication. This is not the case; you can be charged with a DWI for prescription drug use in Texas. Driving while taking a prescribed medication is not illegal, but you must have a legal prescription for the drug and you cannot be considered intoxicated while driving under Texas law.
In Texas, intoxication means lacking the mental or physical capabilities to operate a motor vehicle safely. Texas’ DWI law states that you can be intoxicated from alcohol, illegal drugs, controlled substances, or any other substance, including prescription medication. If the police officer who arrested you believes you are unable to safely operate your vehicle due to your prescription medication, you may be charged with a DWI.
The Penalties for a Texas DWI for a Prescription Drug
The penalties for being intoxicated with a prescription medication are the same as those involving alcohol intoxication. If this is your first time offense, you will face Class B misdemeanor charges. You could end up spending up to six months in jail, having your driver’s license suspended for up to a year, and paying a $2,000 fine if you are convicted. If you have prior DWI convictions on your record, or there are aggravating circumstances, you will be charged with a more serious crime.
If convicted, you could be charged with a class A misdemeanor all the way up to a first degree felony. You will face jail time, significant findings, and a lengthy driver’s license suspension. You could also be required to pay for and attend educational courses, rehabilitation, or counseling. You may have to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, perform community service, or be sentenced to probation.
How Do Police Prove Intoxication Through Prescription Drugs
In most cases, police officers will administer a breathalyzer test or field sobriety test. Most prescription medications do not show up on breathalyzer tests, so the officer may try to use a field sobriety test to establish probable cause. Once you have been arrested, they can request a blood test that will show what type of prescriptions you are taking.
The test may not identify the specific medication you took, but it could be enough to provide the prosecutor with evidence to pursue DWI charges against you. the prosecutor can use any statements you make while being arrested against you in court. For example, if you admit that you take an anti-anxiety medication or other prescription drugs, the police officer can use that against you.
Reach Out to a Dallas/Fort Worth Defense Attorney
Prescription DWIs are just as serious as DWIs involving alcohol. If you have been charged with a DWI in Texas, the Dallas/Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys at Abel Law Firm are here to help. Contact us today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about how we can defend you.