When people think of driving while intoxicated (DWI), the substance causing the intoxication is often alcohol. However, driving under the influence can also include drugs, including those that are legal.
According to Texas DWI law, it is unlawful for any person to operate or be in the actual control of any motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or any controlled substance. Just because someone has a valid prescription, doesn't mean that they can drive while under the influence of that medication.
Some common drug side effects that can impair your ability to drive include:
- Blurred vision
- Delayed or slowed movement
- Inability to focus or pay attention
If you are on prescription medication when the police stop you, they may investigate you for a traditional alcohol DWI by performing field sobriety tests or make you take a breathalyzer test. If you pass the breathalyzer test, they may investigate other potential substances and seek assistance from a drug recognition expert (DRE) to several tests in an attempt to determine what type of medications or other drugs you may be on. The last step will either be submitting a blood or urine sample.
A first offense DWI on prescription drugs is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 180 days, fines of up to $2,000, and license suspension for up to two years.