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DWI and Controlled Substances

Texas Penal Code § 49.04 prohibits driving while intoxicated (DWI) by operating a motor vehicle in a public place while intoxicated. The term “intoxicated” includes having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more (often called the “per se” version of DWI).

The Texas DWI statute also includes operating a motor vehicle while “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.”

In other words, a motorist may be charged with DWI if a police officer believes that the alleged offender is under the influence of any controlled substance—whether it is an illegal drug or a legal prescription drug.

Texas has no “per se” limits for so-called “drugged driving,” which means that authorities can place a person under arrest for having any amount of a controlled substance in his or her system when those substances impair the person’s normal use of mental or physical faculties.

Fort Worth Lawyer for Drug-Related DWI Charges

If you were arrested for an alleged DWI relating to controlled substances, you should not waste any time in seeking knowledgeable legal counsel. Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC has over three decades of combined experience handling all kinds of drug charges, including drugged driving cases.

Our Fort Worth attorneys for controlled substance-related DWI charges aggressively defend clients from Arlington in Tarrant County, Weatherford in Parker County, Cleburne in Johnson County, and many other communities in North Central Texas. You can have our lawyers evaluate your case as soon as you call 817-502-3600 right now to have a free, confidential consultation.

Tarrant County Drugged Driving Information Center

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Types of Controlled Substance-Related DWI Charges

State law in Texas does not differentiate between being intoxicated by alcohol and being under the influence of a controlled substance. DWI results in the same criminal penalties, regardless of the specific substance that impaired an alleged offender’s driving.

It is important to understand that drivers can be charged with a DWI for being under the influence of any drug—legal or illegal. Some of the most common drugged driving cases Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC handles include, but are not limited to:

The main difference between alcohol-related DWI charges and drug-related versions are the ways that prosecutors will attempt to prove the alleged offender’s intoxication. While prosecution for a DWI arrest based on alcohol usually relies on breath or blood tests that prove a person exceeded the legal limits, a case involving a controlled substance may have to incorporate blood or urine tests as well as the observations of the arresting officer and other law enforcement officials.

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Role of Drug Recognition Experts in Tarrant County Controlled Substance DWI Cases

Texas is among the many states that use the services of specially-trained officers called Drug Recognition Experts (DREs). In order to be certified as a DRE, a commissioned Texas peace officer with at least two years of service who has completed Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST) training and has a reasonable DWI background must complete a program that involves pre-school, DRE school, and field certification.

DREs perform the following 12-step assessment of alleged offenders suspected of being under the influence of a controlled substance:

  • Breath Alcohol Test;
  • Interview of the Arresting Officer;
  • Preliminary Examination;
  • Examination of the Eyes;
  • Divided Attention Psychophysical Tests;
  • Examination of Vital Signs;
  • Dark Room Examinations;
  • Examination for Muscle Tone;
  • Examination for Injection Sites;
  • Subject’s Statements and Other Observations;
  • Opinions of the Evaluator; and
  • The Toxicological Examination.

While this process seems fairly rigorous, it is also inherently problematic. The first major issue with the evaluation is that the DRE speaks to the original police officer before performing any tests, essentially undermining objectivity and independence as well as leading to possible confirmation bias.

In addition to their roles at the actual scenes of arrests, DREs also provide valuable testimony in court for prosecutors. One reason the opinions of DREs is so valued is because of the word “expert” in their titles.

The term is actually quite misleading though because DREs are rarely—if ever—qualified to understand medical conditions. This lack of proper knowledge can lead to a DRE misinterpreting possible physical or mental symptoms completely unrelated to drug use being signs of supposed impairment by controlled substances.

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Texas Resources for Drug-Related DWI Charges

Traffic Division of the Forth Worth Police Department - Find information on the Fort Worth DWI Unit and the sheer number of DWI arrests made by these officers each year. Also find information about the Comprehensive STEP Officer of the Year and the Traffic Investigation Unit (T.I.U.). 

Documents Show DWI Officers Accused of Lying by Tarrant County Prosecutors - Read an article from the Star-Telegram dated June 20, 2015. The article discusses serious problems raised after it was discovered that Tarrant County prosecutors were filling out forms call “DA Office Updates” complaining that specific officers were making false statements under oath, especially in DWI cases in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, TX.  After the notes were discovered, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office sent out 4,000 Brady notices to local criminal defense attorneys in and around Fort Wort. The notes concerned 16 officers and three Breathalyzer operators whose credibility was questions in the forms including officers in Arlington Police Department, Bedford Police Department, Crowley Police Department, Euless Police Department, the Fort Worth Police Department, Grapeville Police Department, North Richland Hills, the Watauga Police Department, the Willow Part Police Department, and several officers with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department. The prosecutors were also critical of several breathalyzer operators with the Fort Worth Police Department, the Grapevine Police Department, and the North Richland Hills Police Department.

Nar-Anon Family Groups — Nar-Anon is to Narcotics Anonymous (NA) what Al-Anon is to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), meaning a 12-step program for friends and family members of people affected by addiction. On this website, you can find meeting locations and times all over the country, with several groups in North Central Texas. The Fort Worth-based group is located at the following address:

The 24-Hour Program
3127 Race Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76111

The International Drug Evaluation and Classification Program — The DRE program originated in Los Angeles in the 1970s before the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated DEC pilot programs in four other states in 1987. NHTSA and the International Association of Chiefs of Police expanded the program, and all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, and the United Kingdom now participate. You can learn more about how DREs become certifies, what they do, and answers to frequently asked questions on this website.

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Find a Lawyer for Controlled Substance DWI in Fort Worth, TX

Were you arrested for an allegedly drug-related DWI in Texas? The attorneys at Townsend, Gebhardt & Eppes, PLLC represent clients facing DWI charges in Fort Worth, Arlington, and all over Tarrant County, Texas.

Our lawyers also defend alleged offenders from Weatherford, Cleburne, and surrounding communities in Parker County, Johnson County, and many other areas in North Central Texas. Call 817-502-3600 or submit an online form to have our Fort Worth criminal defense attorneys review your case during a completely free initial consultation.

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