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Can I Be Arrested for DWI For Prescription Drugs?

Posted By Hines Ranc & Holub || 16-Dec-2015

Yes, prescription drugs can lead to a DWI arrest in Texas. If a police officer suspects that your prescription drugs impaired your ability to drive, you could be facing serious criminal charges. While taking your prescription medications may be a regular occurrence for you, if these drugs impact your ability to drive in a normal manner, the officer can arrest you and charge you with driving while intoxicated; however, that doesn’t mean you will automatically be convicted.

Proving Prescription Drug DUI

The officer must still be able to prove in a court of law that you were actually impaired / intoxicated. Unfortunately, there is no “per se” limit of intoxication by drugs (i.e. alcohol is a BAC of .08%), so it can be just as difficult for you to disprove the charges if a trial does take place. That is why having a skilled advocate on your side during this time is so imperative. A drug defense lawyer who understands both DWI and drug impairment charges can help you craft a strong case and fight your unjust charges.

There are some programs that train police officers in drug recognition / drug evaluation classification. These special officers are often referred to as DREs, or Drug Recognition Experts. They work with arresting officers (if not the original officer) to help determine if drugs played a part in impairment.

The 12 Step Evaluation Process

  • The Breath Alcohol Test – If a driver submitted to such a test, the DRE will evaluate the results to see if alcohol impacted the observed impairment at all. Even just one drink may impact a driver more strongly if they are also taking prescription medication.
  • Interview with Arresting Officer – If they weren’t the one to make the arrest, the DRE will need to interview the arresting officer to gain insight on what behavior altered the officer to their possible drug impairment.
  • Preliminary Examination – The DRE will check for any evidence of medical complication that may require them to stop the evaluation and request immediate medical assistance. They will ask the suspect a series of questions to help determine whether or not they are drug impaired. If so, the evaluation will proceed.
  • Eye Examinations – There are three eye tests that the DRE can use to help determine impairment: the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN), and the Lack of Convergence (LOC) tests.
  • Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests – There are a series of psychophysical tests that the DRE will use to assess a suspect’s condition, including the Rhomberg Balance, Walk and Turn, One Leg Stand, and Finger to Nose (some used in regular DUI cases).
  • Examination of Vitals – The DRE will also make precise measurements of the suspect’s blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature using medical instruments.
  • Dark Room Examinations – In this part of the evaluation, the suspect will be taken into a room where the DRE can assess the suspect’s pupil size in three different lighting condition.
  • Examination of Muscle Tone – The DRE will assess the individual’s arm muscles to check for muscle tone. This can help them in their total evaluation.
  • Statement from Suspect / Observations – The DRE may questions the suspect about evidence obtained and observations they made during the evaluations—the suspect may choose not to answer.
  • Toxicological Examination – This is the final step that involves the evaluation of a blood or urine sample, which is sent to a laboratory for official chemical analysis. They will report the findings once the evaluation is complete.

While alcohol-related DWI cases are not simple, they are much more straightforward than drug DWI cases. If you have been arrested for DWI or DUI due to prescription drug usage, you need to act fast to safeguard your rights. If a DRE was called in to try to prove your impairment, having a skilled DWI defense lawyer on your side is crucial.

Hines Ranc & Holub is an Austin defense firm with 85+ years of experience. We have former prosecutors on staff who understand the complexity of such cases. Trust your defense to us—get a free case evaluation.

Categories: DWI