Austin Marijuana DWI Lawyer
Qualified Marijuana DWI Lawyer In Austin, TX
Although several states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical and some for recreational use, Texas has been mostly resistant to legalization, except for the Striking Oil 2015 Senate Bill 339. This law went into effect on September 1, 2017, and only permits patients with intractable epilepsy to use low-THC cannabidiol oil as a part of their treatment. The majority of marijuana users in Texas are not epileptic, but rather people from various socio-economic backgrounds. Additionally, Texas had widespread bipartisan support for marijuana policy reform in 2017.
Although the legalization of marijuana is gaining momentum, it will not change the DWI drug laws. In Texas, it is illegal to drive while impaired by any substance, including drugs, whether legal or illegal. This means that if someone uses marijuana or any other drug and then drives a vehicle, they can still be charged with driving while intoxicated, even if they have not consumed any alcohol. If you’re facing similar charges in Texas, contact our Austin marijuana DWI lawyer right away.
2023 Travis County DWI Guide
Marijuana & DWI Laws In Texas
If a person is unable to use their mental or physical abilities normally due to the influence of marijuana, they can be charged for driving while intoxicated under Texas Penal Code Ann. § 49.04. If a person’s test specimen contains any amount of marijuana, it can be used as evidence by the state to prove that they were driving under the influence due to marijuana’s illegal status and nature (Texas Penal Code Ann. § 49.01). However, there is no specific amount of marijuana or its metabolites that are automatically considered illegal or indicative of impairment according to Texas law.
In Texas, the penalties for DWI remain unchanged regardless of whether you were driving under the influence of prescription drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol. Furthermore, any prior DWI convictions, regardless of whether they were alcohol-related or not, will be taken into account for any subsequent DWI convictions, including those involving marijuana or other drugs. Simply put, all drug DWI offenses carry the same weight in Texas.
Marijuana DWI Penalties In Texas
The penalties for driving while intoxicated by marijuana in Texas are equivalent to those for alcohol-related DWIs. If you have been convicted of DWI in the past, whether it was for alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance, penalties become harsher. The penalties are as follows:
- First DWI Offense – 3 to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, and license suspension for up to one year
- Second DWI Offense– 30 days to 180 days in jail, up to a $4,000 fine, and license suspension for 180 days to 2 years
- Third or Subsequent DWI Offense – 2 to 10 years in a Texas state correctional facility, up to a $10,000 fine, and license suspension for 180 days to 2 years
Additional penalties may be imposed alongside the aforementioned penalties. These penalties could include other repercussions not explicitly mentioned below:
- Community Service
- Drug Rehabilitation/Therapy
- DWI School
- Vehicle Impoundment.
If you are caught with marijuana while driving, you may face both a drug possession charge and a marijuana DWI charge. In certain areas of Texas, such as Travis County, low-level marijuana possession may no longer be prosecuted, but it can still be used as evidence for a DWI charge. If convicted of DWI with marijuana, your sentence may include additional fines and jail time. It’s essential that you speak with an experienced marijuana DWI lawyer to secure the best possible outcome in your case.
Proving Marijuana Intoxication In Texas
In Texas, there are no specific laws that define a legal limit for drug use while driving, unlike the 0.08% blood alcohol content limit for alcohol use. This means that if THC is detected in your blood or urine sample, there is no predetermined legal limit. Additionally, determining marijuana intoxication is currently not a precise science.
Some courts in the US have deemed blood and urine tests unreliable for detecting marijuana use because THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) can still be detected in your system up to five weeks after consumption. Additionally, there is currently no test that can accurately determine impairment at a specific time. Even field sobriety tests have been called into question, with the Supreme Court of Massachusetts ruling that they are not dependable for detecting marijuana use.
Drug Recognition Experts (DRE)
Police units are now training officers in drug recognition because courts have found tests for marijuana intoxication at the time of driving to be unreliable. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has created a training program to certify officers as experts in drug recognition within a few weeks. These certified officers, also known as Drug Recognition Experts, are used by the prosecution in an attempt to prove that an individual was driving under the influence of drugs. However, studies indicate that the 12-step DRE process is not dependable or precise in detecting drug-related impairment.
If a DRE officer stops you and asks you to undergo an evaluation, you should not reveal any information about your drug use, even if it is legal for medical purposes. Additionally, you can refuse to undergo the evaluation since this alone is not enough justification for the officer to obtain a warrant. It is important to note that there have been cases of wrongful arrests across the United States where DREs suspected of drug impairment while driving, but no impairment was found. The experts who are supposed to evaluate suspected impaired drivers receive minimal training before being allowed to conduct a 12-step process to determine drugged driving while intoxicated.
12-Step DRE Process
If a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of drugs, they may ask a drug recognition expert to evaluate you. There are 12 steps that the expert is trained to follow to determine if you are impaired, and if so, what type of drug may be causing the impairment. The 12 steps include the following:
- Breath alcohol test
- Interview with suspect
- Preliminary examination
- Eye exam
- Divided attention tests
- Examination of vital signs
- Darkroom examinations
- Muscle tone examination
- Examination of common injection sites
- Consideration of statements and actions by the subject
- Opinion by DRE certified officer
- Chemical tests to determine the presence of drugs and/or corroborate the DRE officer’s opinion.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does Marijuana Stay In Your System?
It should be noted that standard urine tests can detect marijuana in your system for up to 30 days, while hair testing can detect it for up to six months. However, a positive test result does not necessarily indicate that someone was under the influence of marijuana while driving.
In order to find someone guilty of driving while Intoxicated due to marijuana use, the prosecution must demonstrate with certainty that the individual’s ability to think or operate their body was negatively impacted by the drug while driving. That’s why having a skilled Austin marijuana DWI lawyer defending you is so important.
What Is The Legal Limit For THC?
Unlike alcohol-related driving under the influence (DUI) cases where there is a fixed blood alcohol limit, there is no clear-cut amount of THC permitted in a person’s system while driving. In Texas, possession of marijuana is illegal, and the prosecutor may use the findings of a blood or urine test against you. As it may be challenging to determine the amount or impact of THC, it is crucial to seek legal advice from a qualified marijuana DWI attorney in Austin, TX regarding your case. The methods used for testing marijuana presence vary considerably and are not reliable in gauging overall impairment.
Can I Refuse A Blood Test?
Currently, law enforcement in Texas uses blood tests for determining if a suspect is driving while intoxicated with substances other than alcohol. However, there are issues with this method. The U.S. Supreme Court mandates that all blood tests must only be taken with a warrant. If officers use threats to obtain a blood sample without a warrant, this could be a violation of arrest protocol and any evidence found through this invasive procedure may be dismissed.
If a driver refuses to take a blood test, they can still face consequences under the “implied consent” standard. However, there may be legal issues surrounding the reasonableness of requesting a blood test warrant. In these situations, it is beneficial to have an Austin marijuana DWI lawyer who can negotiate with court officials. This is particularly true for those with valid medical prescriptions and no extenuating circumstances such as unauthorized pills in their possession.
Contact Our Austin Marijuana DWI Lawyer Today
If you get arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, it can be a scary experience, even if you haven’t used marijuana recently. At ATX Legal, we specialize in handling DWI cases and have a strong track record of getting positive outcomes for our clients. We have years of experience and a reputation for success in Texas courtrooms. Contact our Austin marijuana DWI lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss the circumstances of your case and learn more about how we can help.