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The facts about Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

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DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA

When most people think of “DWI” and “DUI” they generally relate it to alcohol. 

But with an ever-increasing number of states legalizing marijuana, either for medical or recreational purposes, law enforcement is focusing on driving under the influence of marijuana. 

For example, Colorado has legalized s marijuana for medical use and it appears that prescriptions for it are ever increasing. 

That said, DWI and DUI arrests are increasing both there and in Texas because of marijuana use.

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Driving While Intoxicated – Marijuana Laws in Texas versus other states

As of 2018, recreational use of marijuana is legal at the state level in ten states: Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Michigan, Vermont, Massachusetts, Main and Colorado.

Texas DWI and DUI laws make simple possession of marijuana illegal. 

But like Colorado and the other states, Texas makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated by marijuana. 

Interestingly, law enforcement in Colorado and in Texas have seen a dramatic rise in the number of DWI and DUI arrests due to marijuana intoxication.

You can be found guilty of driving while intoxicated under Chapter 49.04 of Penal Code if it is shown that either you lost the normal use of your (1) mental or (2) physical faculties, or (3) you had an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater at the time you were driving.

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When it comes to the loss of normal use of mental or physical faculties, the law reads

“… not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body.”

 

If you voluntarily consume a substance other than alcohol like marijuana and it causes you to lose the normal use of either your mental or physical faculties, then this definition covers driving under the influence of marijuana. 

However, unlike alcohol, there is no per se value for drugs such as marijuana.

Signs That A Driver is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

The Marijuana plant (Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica) is the most commonly used illegal drug in the world and behind thousands of arrests every year. 

Generally, you must be found in possession of it in some usable quantity to face legal consequences.

The cannabis leaves, stems and seeds contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a psychoactive ingredient that’s absorbed into the user’s bloodstream when smoked or, in some cases, ingested. 

Once it’s transported to the brain, it affects certain receptors by overstimulating them and causing the user to feel euphoric or “high.”

These effects can include:

  • altered senses
  • altered sense of time
  • changes in mood
  • impaired body movement
  • difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • impaired memory
  • hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
  • delusions (when taken in high doses)
  • psychosis (when taken in high doses)

Measuring intoxication and “No Refusal” programs

Currently, police labs measure alcohol by having the accused citizen submit to either a breath test or a blood test. 

Neither the Intoxilyzer 5000 nor the Intoxilyzer 9000, which are the machines used in Texas to quantify breath/blood alcohol concentration, can detect tetrahydrocannabinol or “THC”, the active ingredient in marijuana. However, a blood test can.

Accordingly, many counties in Texas have started to focus on blood testing in DWI and DUI investigations where marijuana is suspected as the intoxicant. 

Indeed, many counties have obtained grants to fund “No Refusal” programs where police obtain search warrants to take blood samples. 

This sample is then analyzed to obtain a measurable amount of alcohol or other substances, like marijuana, that may be in a person’s blood.

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DWI and DUI of Marijuana Evidence and Per Se Definitions of Intoxication

In every DWI case, you would expect to see certain pieces of evidence such as a breath or blood alcohol test and a video of the accused performing field sobriety tests. 

Blood tests can show traces of marijuana, or more specifically THC, in a suspect’s system, but the State must also prove that the THC caused them to become impaired to a level where they were no longer “normal.”

In Colorado and Washington, where recreational use of marijuana is legal at a State level, that limit is five nanograms per milliliter of blood or five parts per billion. 

But, because recreational use of marijuana is not legal in Texas, many prosecutors and judges often look harshly upon any detectable amount of THC found in the driver’s blood.

Texas has no “per se” definition of intoxication by the introduction of marijuana into the system, so courts and prosecutors face an extra “burden of proof” challenge meaning that the arresting officer must conduct a more thorough and meticulous investigation.

In addition to the “loss of the normal use of mental or physical faculties” standard, Texas law provides that a person is considered intoxicated if that person has a BAC of 0.08 or higher, regardless of whether that person has lost the normal use of his or her mental or physical faculties.

In many DWI cases involving marijuana, law enforcement may call a specially trained officer known as a Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) to the scene to aid in the investigation. 

The DRE will employ a more thorough battery of tests in an effort to render an “expert” opinion that the person is impaired.

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The future of DWI Marijuana in Texas

Also, looking to the future, there are many instruments being tested now for use of police on the roadside that will test a person’s saliva for both identification and quantification of THC. 

These roadside saliva tests will most likely be in Texas in the near future.

And so, our advice is not to drive if you consumed any marijuana. 

A taxi cab fee is much cheaper than that of the bondsman and lawyer. 

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 713-524-1010 or contact us here.

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What is intoxication manslaughter and the potential punishment?

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What is intoxication manslaughter?

Intoxication manslaughter is when you cause the death of another person by accident or mistake while committing the act of BWI, FWI, or while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated in a public place (DWI) and by reason of your intoxication.

It is considered the highest degree of intoxication related offense, and may occasionally escalate to a felony murder charge depending on the circumstances of the incident. As a potential felony conviction, it’s incredibly important that you fully understand your case, the details of your arrest and charge, and how the results of your cas may impact your life.

Working with a professional DWI lawyer can help you understand the circumstances and potential consequences of your charge. Experienced legal counsel is a useful way to better understand your situation and potentially defend your rights.

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Consequences of Intoxication Manslaughter

Intoxication manslaughter is classified as a Felony of the Second Degree. An intoxication manslaughter offense under this section is a felony of the second degree, which may result in a fine up to $10,000 and 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and a driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years.

Upon conviction, there is an annual $1,000 to $2,000 surcharge fee for a period of 3 years in order to retain your driver’s license. Felony convictions also carry the standard penalty of disqualification from voting and possessing a firearm. 

Even in situations where probation is granted, there is still a requirement of a 120 day jail sentence.

Additional Penalties

If the vehicle was driven in a way that made it a deadly weapon, then there is an additional penalty that prohibits good time credit in prison to be considered for early release until half of the sentence has been satisfied. 

Deadly weapon findings may also limit the circumstances in which a person may receive probation.

For bond, an ignition interlock device will often be required, as well as a range of potential other limitations on your driver’s license, driving capabilities, or other social factors.

Ignition Interlock Requirements

As a condition of bond, the court will require you to install a vehicle ignition interlock device on your car, and you will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle that is not equipped with such a device.

The interlock device determines the presence of alcohol in your breath, and if the device detects a certain level of alcohol, the vehicle will be temporarily disabled.

Additionally, the court will order the accused to abstain from alcohol use and the use of controlled substances without a prescription. The court may enforce this by ordering random drug testing. In some circumstances, the court may even order the accused not to operate a motor vehicle while their case is pending.

Working With a DWI Lawyer

Navigating the complex process of fighting a DWI or possession charge can be difficult on your own. If you want to retain your rights and have the best shot at a favorable outcome against these kinds of charges, relying on experienced legal counsel from a professional DWI lawyer in Houston can help your chances when it comes to fighting these charges.

Get a free consultation with our professional DWI lawyers, and discuss the details of your case to see how we might be able to help you better defend your rights and understand your charges.

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Attorneys on-call 24/7. Form Submissions have a fast response time. The use of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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What is intoxication assault and its potential punishment?

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What is intoxication assault ?

Texas state law considers Intoxication Assault an instance where a person causes serious bodily injury to another person by accident or mistake during the act of boating, flying, or driving while intoxicated in a public place, where the injury is a result of a defendant’s intoxication.

Serious bodily injury is generally defined as an injury that creates a substantial risk of death, or that causes serious permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

Intoxication assault is a serious charge that can be compounded by various DWI related charges, elevations, and penalties. Speaking with legal counsel can help you unpack the different charges and potential punishments associated.

Intoxication Assault Penalties

Intoxication Assault is classified as a felony DWI Third Degree. As such, it carries potential penalties including:

  • Up to $10,000 in fines
  • 2 to 10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
  • Driver’s license suspension ranging from 180 days to 2 years

If you are convicted, there will also be an annual $1,000-$2,000 surcharge fee required every year for 3 years in order to retain your driver’s license. Additionally, felony convictions disqualify you from voting and possessing a firearm.

Because Intoxication Assault is a type of DWI related charge, it is possible that you may face related charges and separate penalties based on the exact charges you are facing. It’s good to be informed of both your rights and the full charges being placed against you. For example, an Intoxication Assault charge may carry heavier penalties or punishments if this is also a DWI 2nd or DWI 3rd, or if your BAC levels were above certain levels.

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Probation and the Deadly Weapon Classification

Probation can be a complex subject when it comes to Intoxication Assault charges. Even if you are granted probation, you will still be required to serve a 30 day jail sentence.

In the event your vehicle was driven in a way that made it a “deadly weapon,” then there is an additional penalty that prohibits good time credit in prison from being considered towards early release until half the sentence has been satisfied. This condition can also restrict your ability to receive probation.

Felony charges such as Intoxication Assault have the potential to be life altering legal experiences. Working with a professional DWI attorney can help you better understand your rights, the full range of potential results in your case, and how to proceed when facing these charges.

Intoxication Assault and the Ignition Interlock Requirement

For those convicted of intoxication assault, as a condition of bond, courts will require that a defendant’s vehicle be fitted with an ignition interlock device, and they will not be allowed to operate a motor vehicle without one.

Interlock devices determine the presence of alcohol in your breath, and should it detect a certain level of alcohol, the vehicle will be temporarily disabled. In some circumstances, courts may dictate that you are not to operate a motor vehicle at all while your case is pending.

Additionally, you may be ordered to abstain from the use of alcohol or any controlled substances without a prescription leading up to and during the handling of your case. This may be enforced by the court through random drug testing.

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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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Public Intoxication versus Driving While Intoxicated

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PUBLIC INTOXICATION VERSUS DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED

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The difference between being publicly intoxicated and driving while intoxicated is simple:  

Public intoxication or “P.I.” is when a person who has been drinking proves to be a danger to himself or a danger to others. 

For driving while intoxicated or DWI purposes, “intoxication” is defined as having lost the normal use of mental or physical faculties or the person has an alcohol concentration of .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or more. 

In other words, you would have to be more intoxicated to be charged with public intoxication than you would to be with driving while intoxicated.

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Attorneys on-call 24/7. Form Submissions have a fast response time. The use of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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Are crimes of DWI and public intoxication (PI) in Texas different, and if so, how?

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Are crimes of DWI and public intoxication (PI) in Texas different?

Yes, the crimes of DWI and public intoxication in Texas are very different. 

Specifically, the statutory definitions of the term “intoxicated” are not equal in regard to the two charges. 

The DWI intoxication definitions (loss of normal mental or physical faculties and/or BAC .08 or more) require a lesser measure of intoxication than does public intoxication (PI). 

You are “intoxicated” for purposes of PI when you are a danger to either yourself or others.

In addition, police officers usually video DWI suspects, and as a person holding a driver’s license, you have conditionally pre-agreed to take either a breath or a blood test (this is implied consent), upon request, after your arrest for DWI. 

No such agreement or videotape procedure exists for public intoxication in Texas.

Finally, the punishments for DWI, which are discussed in another section, and PI are different. 

Specifically, PI is in the lowest category for criminal offenses; it is a Class C misdemeanor which carries with it the possibility of a fine up to $500 – no incarceration may be assessed upon conviction for this type of misdemeanor.

Here is how the Texas Penal Code reads for Public Intoxication in Texas:

Sec. 49.02. PUBLIC INTOXICATION. (a) A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

(a-1) For the purposes of this section, a premises licensed or permitted under the Alcoholic Beverage Code is a public place.

(b) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the alcohol or other substance was administered for therapeutic purposes and as a part of the person’s professional medical treatment by a licensed physician.

(c) Except as provided by Subsection (e), an offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(d) An offense under this section is not a lesser included offense under Section 49.04.

(e) An offense under this section committed by a person younger than 21 years of age is punishable in the same manner as if the minor committed an offense to which Section 106.071, Alcoholic Beverage Code, applies.

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Attorneys on-call 24/7. Form Submissions have a fast response time. The use of this form does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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