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Defense Lawyers for Drugged Driving Charges in Fort Worth TX
If you have been arrested for a DWI or DUI in Fort Worth or in the surrounding cities of Tarrant County, Texas and your police officer had probable cause to believe that you were intoxicated as a result of a controlled substance, drug, a dangerous drug, or a combination of two or more drugs, you could be charged with drug DWI.
Can You Get Arrested For A Texas DWI For Drugs Rather Than Alcohol?
YES. Many people are surprised to learn that any medication, including over-the-counter medicine and legally prescribed (prescription) medications, which may cause impairment during driving could be the basis for a DWI arrest and conviction.
If you are taking prescription medication and operating a motor vehicle, there are two primary issues you must be aware of when driving: (1) You should keep your proof of prescription with you at all times so that a police officer will not charge you with drug possession if you are pulled over for suspicion of DWI; (2) Your ingestion of the prescription drugs must not affect you sufficiently to cause you to meet the definition of “intoxication” under Texas DWI law.
You Must Do This Immediately After Your Drug DWI Arrest
Your number one priority after being arrested and bonded out of jail for a Drug DWI case in Texas is to hire a DWI attorney to help you file for an Administrative License Revocation Hearing Request, better known as an ALR Hearing. Under Texas law, you have 15 days from the date of your arrest to request a license hearing. Failure to make the request for an ALR hearing within 15 days will result in an automatic suspension of your Texas driver’s license 40 days after the date of your arrest.
Your DWI attorney can make a request for the hearing to preserve your right to examine the evidence and fight the driver’s license suspension. At this hearing, you can gather helpful evidence that may assist you in getting your DWI case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
How Does Texas DWI Law Define “Intoxication?”
Under Texas DWI laws, you are “intoxicated” if you have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher, or you no longer have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties by reason of alcohol or drugs. “Drugs” can include illegal drugs, prescription medication or any other controlled substance – including over-the-counter medicines.
As you can see from the definition above, how can the State of Texas prove a Drug DWI case if there is no 0.08 alcohol level? The prosecutor will attempt to prove you are intoxicated through your behavior, actions, and Standardized Field Sobriety Tests. For example: many DWI officers look for the following behavior to establish proof of intoxication on Drug DWI cases: bloodshot watery eyes, slurred speech, lack of balance or coordination, confusion, inability to understand basic instructions or focus on the officer’s questions, etc. The police officer will try to claim that any of these observed behaviors must have been because of intoxication due to drug usage.
Additionally, the police officer will attempt to persuade you to give a blood sample or seek a blood search warrant in order to obtain a blood sample establishing the amount of the drugs in your system. What if you were taking the normal prescription medication you were prescribed by your doctor? Will the presence of the drugs in your system result in a guilty verdict at a Drug DWI trial? Not necessarily!
In order to be convicted for Prescription Drug DWI, the prosecutor will have to call a toxicologist as an expert witness to testify that the drug levels found in the blood sample were more than therapeutic levels customarily found with normal usage doses.
Even if the drug level was higher than therapeutic levels, a toxicologist, when pressed under cross examination at a DWI trial, will many times admit that there can be other factors that must be considered when determining if someone is intoxicated. For example – what if you have been taking the medication for years and have built up a resistance to the drugs? What if your behavior on the roadside was more consistent with someone that was not intoxicated? All of these issues must be thoroughly researched and leveraged by your DWI attorney during negotiations.
Drug DWI charges are serious, carrying with it the same fines and penalties as a DWI involving alcohol. If you or someone you know is facing drug DWI charges, it is critical that you call an experienced and aggressive drug DWI law firm immediately.
You should not have to suffer such severe consequences for driving while on cold medicine or prescription medication that your doctor instructed you to take. Unfortunately, Texas laws regarding driving under the influence of drugs and driving under the influence of alcohol are not unique.
What Is The Difference Between DWI & Drug DWI in Texas?
Although many people believe that driving while high or under the influence of a drug is a separate crime from DWI, Texas law makes no distinction in the charge or the punishment range for a drug related DWI arrest and a DWI arrest based upon alcohol. If you have been arrested for a drug DWI, you will face the same range of punishment and mandatory driver’s license suspensions as those charged with an alcohol related DWI. Reach out to a drug DWI lawyer as soon after your arrest as possible so they can start building your defense.
The primary difference between an alcohol-related DWI and a drug-related DWI is the way the prosecution will be required to prove your possible intoxication. Generally, police officers and Drug Recognition Experts that have been trained to manage drug related DWI’s have been taught to look for the following types of drugs when considering a DWI arrest:
- Central Nervous System Depressants (ex. Alcohol, Barbiturates, Anxiety and Depression Medication – Valium, Xanax, Librium, etc.)
- Central Nervous System Stimulants (ex. Cocaine, Amphetamines and Methamphetamine
- Hallucinogens (ex. LSD, Peyote, Psilocybin, MDMA/Ecstasy)
- PCP or Phencyclidine
- Narcotic Analgesics (ex. Heroin, Morphine, Codeine, Demerol, Methadone, Opium)
- Inhalants (ex. Gasoline, Glue, Paint, Hairspray, etc.)
- Cannabis (ex. Marijuana, Hashish, Cush, Marinol)
Field Sobriety Tests Used in Texas to Indicate Drug Intoxication
Most officers that handle drug-related DWI stops, and arrests are not thoroughly trained as to how to manage and detect signs of drug-related intoxication. For example, officers are trained to administer standardized field sobriety tests during drug related DWI stops.
However, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is only a valid predictor of intoxication if certain drugs are involved: Central Nervous System Depressants, PCP, and Inhalants. The HGN is not a valid indicator of intoxication if the following drugs are involved: Stimulants, Hallucinogens, Narcotic Analgesics and Cannabis.
Additionally, DWI field sobriety test performance is only one factor to be considered when assessing intoxication. For instance, many of the same behavior’s officers are assessing with a field sobriety test can easily be indicative of a non-intoxication-based reason. For example: many people will become confused when approached by a police officer because they are full of anxiety and fear because they are being investigated for a DWI. In fact, if you are being told that you must walk a straight line, heel-to-toe and count aloud and your performance on that test will determine your freedom, there is a good possibility you will not perform “normally” because of the anxiety and fear associated with the investigation.
The best DWI attorneys in Texas know these issues and capitalize on ensuring that these concerns are addressed in the negotiations with the State of Texas. Experienced and aggressive DWI lawyers will also cross-examine police officers thoroughly to expose their lack of training and experienced related to Drug DWI cases. For example: we have had many instances where the police officer was unfamiliar with the common signs of intoxication associated with a particular drug.
Are You Intoxicated Under Texas DWI Law For Driving On Adderall?
Some officers believe so because they associate every behavior they see as being indicative only of intoxication. However, what if the officer is not familiar with the basic chemistry of the drug or the wait it interacts with the body? In one instance, a DWI officer was claiming that signs of lethargy and grogginess was associated with the Adderall usage. However, upon cross-examination, the officer was surprised to learn that Adderall is actually a stimulant and many of the attributes the officer claimed were associated with the drug use did not match up with the drugs found in the blood test.
How Can Intoxication Be Measured or Proven in Drug DWI Cases?
Proving a drug related DWI allegation in Texas is not as simple as obtaining a blood or breath test of more than 0.08 like it is for alcohol. Unlike alcohol, drugs and the combination of different drugs affect people in diverse ways that do not always result in intoxication.
Many times, if a blood or urine test is not obtained after your DWI arrest, the prosecution is required to prove your drug intoxication by having an officer testify to certain behavior that he believed indicated your intoxication.
Although the prosecution will call a state toxicologist to testify to the general signs of intoxication for your suspected drug(s), without a detailed blood or urine test indicating the amount of the suspected drug(s) in your system, the prosecution will be asking the jury to take circumstantial evidence of your behavior at the DWI stop and conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving while intoxicated.
Defenses To Drug DWI Charges In Texas
If you have been arrested and charged with a Drug DWI charge in Fort Worth or a surrounding city in Tarrant County or Dallas County, Texas, it is critical that you hire an experienced DWI lawyer. After hiring a lawyer, you should take the time to educate yourself on Drug DWI laws in Texas and work with your attorney to prepare a defense. We will briefly discuss a few common defenses to Drug DWI charges in Texas.
Illegal DWI Traffic Stop
What if a DWI officer pulled your vehicle over for no reason? What if the traffic stop was based upon a hunch that you were doing something wrong? What if there was no articulable traffic stop observed on the DWI video or the police report? Under Texas DWI law, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop. Failure to articulate evidence establishing reasonable suspicion will result in an illegal traffic stop. Your DWI lawyer can file a motion to suppress to challenge the traffic stop and if you prevail at your hearing, your DWI case can be thrown out at court.
Improper DWI Blood Draw or Breath Test
One issue that many DWI attorneys miss is the evaluation of the blood draw or breath test evidence. Was the blood properly drawn? Was the person drawing the blood a “qualified technician,” as required by Texas DWI law? Was the chain of custody properly established for the blood vials? Did the lab properly evaluate and preserve the blood samples? If not, your DWI blood draw could be thrown out and this would substantially improve your leverage in negotiating a favorable result in court.
If you submitted to a breath test, many of the same questions merit investigation: did the Intoxilyzer Operator administer the breath test properly? Was the machine operating properly at the time of the test? Did the machine receive the regularly scheduled maintenance? Any errors or failures to operate or maintain the machine are a basis for it being ruled unreliable and subsequently thrown out in court. Your DWI lawyer should examine every possibility to improve your prospects for a favorable result on your DWI case.
Contact a DWI Lawyer Experienced with Drug DWI Cases
If you have been charged with a drug-related DWI in Fort Worth, Arlington, Grapevine or in the surrounding cities in Tarrant County, you need a drug-related DWI lawyer that is experienced with drugged driving cases. Having a legal team of former Tarrant County prosecutors that have tried over 100 DWI jury trials in the courts of Tarrant County, Texas, heading your defense can make the difference between a guilty or not guilty verdict.
At The Hampton Law Firm, our law practice is different from other firms because we provide the citizens of Tarrant County with a DWI trial team approach that evens the odds and provides the best possible DWI defense for your drug related DWI case. Call The Hampton Law Firm now for a free consultation.
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