What Is Prescription Drug DWI?

Prescription drug DWI is a criminal charge you can face in Texas if you are arrested for driving while intoxicated by prescribed medication.

According to the Texas Penal Code, intoxication means “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of 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.”

There are many prescribed drugs known to cause impairment. These include opioids, muscle relaxants, sedatives, and even some antidepressants. If you are taking one of these drugs and choose to drive, a police officer could arrest you if you’re stopped on suspicion of DWI.

If you are taking a legally prescribed medication that doesn’t impair your mental or physical abilities, such as birth control or blood pressure medication, then you are unlikely to face a DWI charge. That said, if a police officer believes you are impaired by any medication you’re taking – whether it’s widely known to cause impairment or not – you can be arrested for DWI.

What Are the Penalties for Prescription Drug DWI?

In Texas, the penalties for prescription drug DWI are no different than alcohol-related DWI. A conviction can mean jail or prison, hefty fines, a suspension of your driver’s license, and other requirements imposed by the court.

If you have prior convictions, damaged property, or injured or killed someone, these are considered aggravating circumstances that can sharply increase the potential penalties’ severity.

First-Time DWI Conviction

First offenses for prescription drug DWI are often charged as Class B misdemeanors. A conviction can mean serving up to six months in jail, paying a $2,000 fine, and losing your license for one year.

Second DWI Conviction

A second DWI is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. A judge can punish a second DWI conviction with up to a year in jail, $4,000 in fines, and a loss of your license for two years.

Subsequent Offenses

A third or subsequent DWI offense is charged as a felony, where a conviction can mean 2 to 10 years in prison and a loss of one’s driver’s license for up to two years.

Will Showing the Police My Prescription Help?

It might, but not in the way you’d think. If you are prescribed a heavily controlled drug for a legitimate ailment, showing the police officer your prescription can help you avoid drug possession charges.

Other than that, it’s unlikely that having your prescription handy will help you during a DWI investigation. It might even cause your arrest by confirming the police officer’s suspicion that you are impaired by a drug.

If You’re in Trouble, We’re Here to Help

If you are facing criminal charges for driving while impaired by your medication, you need legal help. Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. can offer the legal support necessary to help you fight prescription drug DWI charges. We know how serious the consequences of a conviction can be, which is why we strive to pursue all possible options that may help our clients.

Learn more during an initial consultation with our team. Contact Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. online now to learn more.