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Can People Get a DWI for Prescription Drugs? What Then?

— August 15, 2021

It is helpful to know which drugs are most likely to cause impairment and lead to a charge of driving while under the influence.

Anytime you are driving under the influence of a substance that impairs your ability to drive, you can be charged with DWI. While most people associate driving while under the influence with illegal drugs or alcohol, the truth is that this applies to drugs that are legal and prescribed by your doctor. If you have been charged with a DWI for prescription drugs, here are some important things you should know. 

Requirements for DWI in Texas

There are two main requirements for being charged with DWI in Texas:

  • The driver is driving or otherwise operating a motor vehicle
  • The driver is impaired

If you meet these two criteria, you can be pulled over, arrested, and charged with DWI.

The law states that any driver who is impaired can be charged with DWI. This means that if you take too much cold medication and are too drowsy to drive, you should not be at the wheel, and you can face a charge for that. 

If you take a prescription drug that impairs your ability to drive, a police officer may pull you over and ask you to submit to a field sobriety test. If you fail this test, you can be arrested and charged with DWI, even if your blood alcohol concentration is normal. 

Consequences of DWI in Texas

The penalties for a DWI charge change depending on several factors, including state legislation and the number of offenses you have. In Texas, you can expect to receive the following penalties, depending on your record: 

First offense:

  • Up to $2,000 fine
  • Mandatory three days in jail, maximum 180 days
  • Loss of drivers license for up to one year

Second offense: 

  • Up to $4,000 fine
  • Mandatory month in jail, maximum 180 days
  • Loss of drivers license for up to two years

Third offense: 

  • Up to $10,000 fine
  • Two to 10 years in prison
  • Loss of drivers license for up to two years

If there is a child under the age of 15 in the car:

  • You can be charged with child endangerment
  • You can face a fine of up to $10,000
  • You can face two years in jail
  • You can lose your drivers license for an additional 180 days

As you can see, even a first-time DWI offense can have serious consequences. There are several steps that you can take to protect your freedom and livelihood. 

Call an Attorney

Police officer leaning in window of car after accident; image by Matt Chesin, via
Image by Matt Chesin, via

There are several arguments that your attorney can make that can help you win a DWI case. First, they can argue that you were not under the influence or driving while impaired. The burden is on the State to prove this aspect, and your attorney can pressure them to do so. 

Secondly, if this was your first offense, there may be diversion programs available that will help you stay out of jail or keep the charge from your record. With an attorney on your side, you can explore every possible option and choose the one that is best for you. 

Medicine That Can Cause Impairment

It is helpful to know which drugs are most likely to cause impairment and lead to a charge of driving while under the influence. Certain pain medications, anti-seizure medication, and antidepressants have all been shown to cause drowsiness, mental fog, and disorientation. If your doctor has warned you not to operate a motor vehicle while on your medication, it is best to follow that advice. 

Final Thoughts

If you are looking for a DWI lawyer in Dallas, look for a team of competent experts with whom you feel comfortable. There are attorneys who specialize in standardized field sobriety testing. Some have decades of experience in fighting for the rights of their clients. 

A competent legal team can challenge evidence and might even get a case to be thrown out entirely. Many firms also offer a free initial consultation, so you really have nothing to lose by contacting them to set up an initial appointment.

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