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What Is Prescription Drug DWI in Texas?


Driving while intoxicated by alcohol or drugs is a serious offense in Texas. Although most people think about drugs in terms of illegal substances, the reality is that you could potentially get a DWI while taking a legally prescribed medication.

Certain prescribed drugs can have side effects that may cause impairment. Impairment, in this case, refers to any physical or mental effects that distort your senses or make it difficult to make safe decisions on the road. If a police officer believes you are affected in this manner by any intoxicating substance, you can be arrested for DWI.

Prescription Drugs That Can Lead to a DWI

Many people are unaware of the fact that certain prescription drugs they take every day can impair their ability to drive and result in a DWI arrest in Texas.

Some common prescription drugs that can lead to a DWI are:

  • Benzodiazepines: These drugs are commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. They can cause drowsiness, impaired coordination, and slow reaction time.
  • Narcotic painkillers: Drugs like codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone can produce a feeling of euphoria and impair judgment, making it dangerous to drive.
  • Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants can cause drowsiness, confusion, and blurred vision.
  • Sleep aids: Drugs like zolpidem and eszopiclone can cause drowsiness and impair coordination, making it unsafe to operate a vehicle.

These are just a few examples of prescription drugs that can lead to a DWI. Any medication that causes dizziness, drowsiness, or impairs judgment has the potential to result in a DWI charge.

What Are the Penalties for a Prescription Drug DWI?

A DWI incident caused by prescription drugs is treated virtually the same as a DWI caused by any other substance. That means the penalties you face for a prescription DWI charge are the same as those for an alcohol-related offense or one that involved illegal drugs.

DWI penalties can include the following:

  • Up to one year in jail
  • Up to $4,000 in fines
  • License suspension of up to two years
  • Mandatory drug and/or alcohol counseling
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device

More serious circumstances and/or a third DWI conviction on your record can result in felony DWI charges, which can be penalized with up to 10 years in prison. Even if your third DWI wasn’t caused by alcohol or illegal drugs but rather a legally prescribed medication, a judge can send you to prison.

Contact Us for Criminal Defense Help

If you are charged with a DWI because of a prescription drug or any other substance, you need legal assistance. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you fight your charges, which can result in reduced charges, acquittal, a case dismissal, or another favorable outcome. No attorney can guarantee an outcome, but your chances can be improved with a legal professional at your side.

For more information about building your legal defense, contact The Alband Law Firm today.