Do DWI Laws Apply to Drugs?

Most people know that a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. That number translates to about one drink per hour for many. But the legalization of marijuana in states across the country has left many people wondering how these rules apply to recreational drugs.

Both drugs and alcohol can make it challenging to focus behind the wheel. Since the result is the same, are there different penalties for driving under the influence of these substances?

There is no limit to drugged driving

While the authorities can measure alcohol via a blood alcohol level, there is no roadside measurement for drugs. Instead, officers will judge the driver’s impairment level through a roadside sobriety test. These assessments are subjective and help police decide if a blood or urine test is necessary. If subsequent tests detect narcotics, the crime will fall under the DWI laws in Texas. DWI penalties are no laughing matter. A first offense can lead to a $2,000 fine, 180 days in prison and loss of a driver’s license for an entire year.

Drug possession is a separate charge

Drugged driving will lead to a DWI charge, but possessing drugs is another indictment entirely. Substances like marijuana, cocaine and opioids are illegal in Texas. If the police find non-prescription medications or narcotics, a drug possession arrest will likely follow. Penalties vary widely depending on the amount of drugs found.

Driving while intoxicated, no matter the substance is illegal and can lead to severe punishments.

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