Many states across the U.S. have legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana. However, Texas has some of the strictest laws against marijuana.
Many advocates are urging Texas lawmakers to legalize marijuana in the state. However, even if weed was legalized in the Lone Star State, it would have no effect on driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws.
A popular misconception is that DWI charges only apply when a driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. In Texas, you can be charged with DWI if you get caught operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. In fact, you may face DWI charges if you smoke or consume marijuana in any other way.
If you are facing driving while intoxicated by marijuana charges in Texas, contact a Round Rock criminal defense lawyer immediately.
How Does Marijuana Affect a Driver?
Some of the most common symptoms of marijuana impairment include:
Inability to concentrate
Slower reaction time
Slowed perception of time
All of these effects can negatively affect a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
What Are DWI Marijuana Laws in Texas?
Under Texas Penal Code $49.01, a driver can be charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) if they lack the use of “mental or physical faculties” to operate a vehicle due to the introduction of alcohol, an illegal drug, or any controlled substance into their body.
Due to the illegal status of marijuana in Texas, a driver can be charged with DWI if he or she gets caught driving while impaired by marijuana. However, there is no statute that would require a specific amount of marijuana in the driver’s blood to measure the level of impairment.
Instead, DWI marijuana charges in Texas are based on rather subjective observations of an arresting police officer who believes that a driver’s mental and/or physical faculties are impaired by drug use. This fact alone makes it possible to dismiss DWI charges with the help of a skilled Round Rock criminal defense lawyer.
What Are the Penalties for DWI Marijuana in Texas?
Texas Penal Code does not recognize the difference between driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or any other illegal or prescription drug when it comes to punishing impaired motorists.
Thus, the penalties for DWI apply regardless of the type of substance that caused a driver’s impairment. The severity of the punishment for driving while intoxicated by marijuana in Texas depends on the number of prior DWI convictions on your record:
First offense. The minimum jail sentence for a first DWI offense is up to 180 days. In addition, you will be ordered to a fine of up to $2,000. Your driver’s license may be suspended for a period between 90 days and a year.
Second offense. The minim incarceration for a second DWI offense is up to a year (but no less than 30 days in jail). The maximum fine is $4,000. The driver’s suspension ranges from 180 days to 2 years.
Third and subsequent offense. The minimum jail sentence for a third and any subsequent DWI offense is from 2 to 10 years in addition to up to $10,000 in fines. Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 2 years.
In addition to the above-mentioned penalties, a DWI conviction in Texas include:
Drug rehabilitation and therapy
DWI education programs
Aside from DWI penalties, you may also face punishment for drug possession. If the arresting police officer finds marijuana on your person or in your vehicle, you may also be charged with marijuana possession. However, some cities and counties in Texas ended arrests and fines for low-level marijuana possession from 2020.
However, any amount of marijuana on you or in your vehicle can still be used to prosecute you for DWI marijuana unless the police had no probable cause to stop you and/or search your vehicle.
How Can the Prosecution Prove That I Was Impaired by Marijuana?
In Texas, you face DWI charges for driving under the influence of alcohol when your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. But what is the legal limit of marijuana in your system?
There is no law in Texas that would indicate a legal limit of THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, in a driver’s blood or urine to charge him or her with DWI.
In fact, the existing methods for determining the level of marijuana intoxication are inaccurate and unreliable because THC can remain in a person’s system for up to five weeks after the consumption.
That’s why you may be able to get the DWI charges dismissed if you are represented by an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can challenge the validity of the proof of marijuana impairment to avoid a conviction.
What Are the Potential Defenses to DWI Marijuana Charges in Texas?
Depending on the facts of your DWI arrest, there are several potential defense strategies to fight against a DWI marijuana charge in Texas. At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our criminal defense lawyers have had success in defending clients using the following defenses:
The police did not have probable cause to stop your vehicle
The police failed to perform a field sobriety test or failed to administer it properly
The police officer did not have probable cause to arrest you for DWI
Your ability to operate a vehicle was not actually impaired (even if you did consume marijuana)
The police violated your constitutional rights during the arrest
The test results showing marijuana intoxication in inaccurate or unreliable
Speak with a Round Rock Criminal Defense Lawyer
There are many other possible defense strategies to fight against a DWI marijuana conviction. If you have been charged with DWI with marijuana, it is advisable to consult with a Round Rock criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your particular situation and identify the best defense strategy in your case.At The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard, our criminal defense attorneys are committed to helping clients avoid a DWI marijuana conviction and the penalties that come with it. Call 254-501-4040 to discuss your unique case.