The Opioid Epidemic and Driving While Intoxicated (Part 2)

This week we continue to explore driving under the influence of drugs and the challenging response state and local governments and health offices are facing as they deal with the opioid epidemic sweeping through the United States.

Texas DWI (Drugs) Laws in Depth

Under Texas Penal Law 49.01, a suspected intoxicated (drugs) driver does not have to have a specific amount of drugs in his or her system. The improper behavior is driving while lacking mental faculties because of a drug. Driver impairment then, is determined on a case by case basis.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs is Common in Texas

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published the results of a 2009 survey it conducted that examined alcohol and drug abuse by drivers. 10,000 people in the lower 48 states were drug tested and the following are the results of those tests:

  • 11% of daytime drivers and 14.4% of nighttime drivers tested positive for illegal prescription, over the counter medications, or prescription medications.
  • 1.6% of all daytime and nighttime drivers had opioids in their system.

Returning to the example in the first post in this series, the ballooning pilot was operating the balloon early in the morning. Drug use varies throughout the day and by day of the week. To confirm the presence of drugs in the bloodstream of a vehicle operator, more likely than not, the police officer must seek a warrant to draw blood, if the vehicle operator fails to consent to provide a blood sample.

Unlike in alcohol cases, there is no breath test for drugs. A consenting vehicle operator must be taken to a hospital or laboratory to physically draw blood. Results are not immediate. After the blood is drawn, the vehicle operator may be released until more information about the type and quantity of drugs is determined.

Responding to the Opiate Crisis

Because the response of local and state governments is on-going, other jurisdictions are studying the problem of driving while under the influence of drugs and enacting legislation that will help authorities make better laws in the future. One such state is Washington. Any driver who dies within four hours of a traffic accident requires a blood toxicology screen to determine the substances (either drugs or alcohol) in the deceased driver’s bloodstream.

Hire a Texas DWI (Drugs) Defense Firm Right Now

Every DWI (Drugs) case is unique. The fact-specific circumstances of the charges and how the law may be applied to your case, are some of the immediate inquiries a Texas DWI (Drugs) defense lawyer will make in your case. Make sure you select an attorney that you feel comfortable with, who will advise and counsel you on the steps you will undertake to resolve your DWI (Drugs) matter. From arrest to arraignment, to trial and post-conviction, the Law Office of Kimberly Griffin Tucker proudly serves the counties of Denton, Collins, and Dallas, Texas. Schedule your confidential DWI (Drugs) case evaluation today by calling (214) 445-6336 without further delay.

(image courtesy of Patrick Tomasso)