When a motorist is arrested for drugged driving in Texas, the offense is considerably more complex than a DWI involving alcohol.
Texas’ drugged driving law can be found in Texas Penal Code Section 49.01.
It’s an offense under the code for the driver of a vehicle to operate it while he or she is intoxicated.
Drivers who are intoxicated lack mental or physical control due to the influence of a drug or other substance. It could be a combination of alcohol or drugs.
Drugged driving is different from drunk driving. There’s no fixed amount of drugs in the blood system that determines a conviction. If a driver has been consuming alcohol the prohibited blood/alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent.
Whether a driver is impaired due to a drug is determined on a case-by-case basis and at the discretion of the prosecutor.
In other words, drugged driving prosecutions can be a lot more arbitrary than those for alcohol.
According to Texas District & County Attorneys Association, there are many difficulties in bringing these cases and police officers are often not familiar with the signs of drugged driving.
A number of myths surround the process such as the idea that medical staff will automatically take a blood sample if they suspect impaired driving.
Another myth is the notion that the presence of drugs means a driver is automatically impaired. The association states that there is little scientific support to equate certain drug dosing levels with impairment.
Alcohol is the only substance for which there is a scientific basis for determining impairment.
Which Drugs Are Prohibited
Texas’s drugged driving law concerns the prohibition of “a controlled substance, a drug, or a dangerous drug. A list of narcotics and substances regulated by federal law is found on the Drug Enforcement Administration website. A driver cannot use the defense that he or she is legally entitled to use a controlled substance.
The many gray areas in drugged driving enforcement in Texas make it a ripe area for confusion and abuse.