Many people in Houston are shocked to learn they can be arrested and convicted of DWI as a result of taking prescription medications. But it’s true. The Texas Penal Code’s definition of DWI states that you are “intoxicated” if you do not have “normal use” of your faculties due to alcohol, drugs, dangerous drugs, or controlled substances. Prescription drugs are controlled substances, which is why you need a prescription to have them.
A man in Shenandoah learned this lesson after he crashed into a light pole just off I-45 in north Houston. The man insisted that he hadn’t had anything to drink, stating in fact, “I don’t drink alcohol.” However, he did admit to taking his prescription meds right before putting the key in the ignition. Police found the man’s medication at the scene and arrested him for DWI. No word yet on whether he’s pled guilty or is waiting for a day in court.
A valid prescription might be a defense to a drug possession charge, but it doesn’t protect you from DWI charges. Contact The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates today to learn more.
Were Your Faculties Impaired by Prescription Drugs?
This is the test for a DWI conviction. Texas law doesn’t require a certain number on a breathalyzer to find you impaired. It’s enough if a cop observes your driving and concludes you are not driving as you normally would because of drugs or alcohol.
For example, a cop might stop you for:
- Weaving in and out of lanes
- Running a red light
- Drifting off the road
- Crashing into another vehicle
- Driving too slowly
Each of these suggest you do not have the normal physical or mental control. Consequently, the police might stop you and investigate further. It’s at this stage that they might discover your medication.
What Prescription Drugs Are Dangerous?
Almost any prescription drug could have negative side effects. However, many of them inhibit a person’s central nervous system to reduce pain. Consequently, a person’s reaction times slow and they might become drowsy. It’s even possible to fall asleep behind the wheel due to prescription drugs.
Some of the more dangerous medications are:
Often, people admit to taking prescription drugs to the police, which saves the police the trouble of trying to get a blood or urine test. Other people have the medication in the vehicle with them. Since “I have a prescription” isn’t a defense, we recommend not answering any police questions if you are stopped after taking your meds.
Can You Defend against Prescription Drug DWI?
Yes. However, the fact you are taking drugs according to a prescription isn’t a help. Texas expects you to avoid driving if you can’t operate a motor vehicle safely.
One defense is that you really weren’t impaired. There might be some valid reasons why you were drifting in traffic or crashed your vehicle. For example, you might have swerved to avoid another car and crashed. Or something could be wrong with your car, which causes you to drift in your lane.
Facing Criminal Charges for DWI in Houston?
If you’re facing criminal charges in Houston, Harris County, or Galveston County, contact Tad Nelson today. We have extensive experience in DWI cases in Texas and we will fully review the charges against you. Let’s see if we can get your case dismissed. Call 713-489-7373 to get started.