DWI with Drugs

You may think police officers are unable to detect or recognize signs of drug use from DWI testing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Driving while under the influence of a controlled substance will still land you a DWI. Many offenders are charged with DWI after they’ve been pulled over by a Drug Recognition Expert or DRE. These are specialized officers who are trained to identify drug use by using a 12-step process. Not only are they trained in spotting drug use, but they can testify as an “expert” in court.

Even if you aren’t pulled over by a DRE, the drugs in your system can be detected through urinalysis. A urine test is designed to discover any trace amounts of terpenes left over in your system after you used a controlled substance. Unfortunately, these tests tend to have long detection times. So, you could be positive for drugs even though the last time you used any was days or even weeks ago.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI involving drugs, then we highly suggest you secure legal representation as soon as possible.

Drug DWI Attorney in Houston, Texas

Texas is known to have some of the harshest DWI laws in the nation. If you have been arrested and charged with DWI, then consult The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken and his team at The Benken Law Firm aggressively defend clients charged with driving while intoxicated. His years of experience, creative defenses and extensive resources could mean Brian Benken is the right attorney for you.

Contact the attorneys at The Benken Law Firm by calling (713) 223 - 4051 to set up your first consultation free. The Benken Law Firm will review your case and discuss your legal options in further detail. The Benken Law Firm tirelessly defends people throughout the greater Harris County and Houston area including Bellaire, Deer Park, Pasadena, League City, Missouri City, Nassau Bay and El Lago.

Overview of DWI with Drugs in TX

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Can They Check for Drugs with a DWI Test?

Law enforcement use various tools to determine if a person is impaired or not. Some of these, despite popular opinion, can be used to detect drug use. However, it’s important to note that urine testing is used to identify trace amounts of terpenes in your system that the drug leaves behind. These terpenes can remain in your system for as little as a few hours, but in some cases can last up to 30 days. It depends on how often you use the drug and what the controlled substance is.

This creates quite a dilemma for DWI offenders. Since detection times differ depending on the drug, you could possibly test positive for a drug you used days or even weeks ago. This false positive could be enough probable cause for an officer to arrest you for DWI.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the average detection times of some controlled substances are as follows:

Type of Drug Detection Time
Cocaine One day
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) One day
3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA, Ecstasy, or Molly) Two days
Ketamine Two days
Amphetamine Three days
Codeine Three days
Fentanyl Three days
Hydrocodone Three days
Marijuana – Single Use Three days
Methamphetamine Three days
Morphine Three days
Oxycodone Three days
Flunitrazepam Five days
Marijuana – Moderate Use (multiple times per week)

Five days

Methadone Seven days
Phencyclidine (PCP) Eight days
Diazepam 10 days
Marijuana – Heavy Use (daily) 10 days
Marijuana – Chronic Heavy Use

30 days


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What is a Drug Recognition Expert in Texas?

In the early 2000’s, law enforcement found DWI cases involving drug use to be on the rise. In response, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) created the Drug Recognition Expert program. It’s a type of certification law enforcement officers can receive if they have completed the required training. Officers who successfully complete their DRE training can also testify in a trial setting as an “expert,” even though the training needed to become a DRE pales in comparison to standard expert testimony.

Certified DRE officers use a 12-step process to spot drugged drivers on the road. According to DRE protocol, officers must follow through each step in the list to determine if a person is under the influence or not. Most of the 12-step process relies on field sobriety tests and rudimentary science, so a DRE officer’s testimony can be discredited by a talented defense attorney. That is why it’s highly recommended you seek legal representation if you were arrested by a DRE officer.

Listed below are the 12 steps used by DRE.

  1. Breathalyzer or breath analysis Test
  2. Question the suspected DWI driver on their state of mind
  3. Examine the driver with a list of composed of questions and eye-tracking exercises
  4. Evaluate the driver’s eyes through tests such as the Lack of Convergence (LOC), Vertical Gaze Nystagmus (VGN), or the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)
  5. Assess the driver’s mental and physical state with field sobriety tests;
  6. Examine vital signs such as blood pressure or pulse;
  7. Check the offender’s pupil size with a pupilometer and penlight;
  8. Examine the driver’s muscle tone and if it’s weak;
  9. Check the driver’s arms for any injection sites;
  10. Document the results of the 12-step process;
  11. Question the driver about any suspicious evidence possibly found in the process; and
  12. Ask for a urine or blood bio sample for DWI testing

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What Are the Penalties for DUI with Drugs in Texas?

Whether you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the penalties for DWI are nothing to take lightly. You will still face the same consequences you would have if you were driving under the influence of alcohol. These penalties can include massive fines, annual fees and possible incarceration.

Listed below are the penalties for driving while intoxicated in Texas.

  • First Offense – Class B Misdemeanor
    • A fine of up to $2,000
    • Up to 180 days in jail;
    • Up to 100 hours of community service;
    • Driver license suspension for up to 12 months; and
    • Completion of a 12-hour DWI Education Program;
    • Annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years by the Department of Public Safety (DPS).
  • Second Offense – Class A Misdemeanor
    • A fine of up $4,000;
    • Up to 12 months in jail;
    • Up to 200 hours of community service;
    • Completion of a DWI Education Program;
    • Driver license suspension for up to two years; and
    • Annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years by DPS
  • Third or Subsequent Offense – Third-Degree Felony
    • A fine of up to $10,000
    • Up to 10 years in prison;
    • Up to 200 hours of community service;
    • Driver license suspension for up to two years; and
    • Annual fee of up to $2,000 for three years by DPS.

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Additional Resources

DWI Laws in Texas– Visit the official website for the Texas Department of Safety (DPS) to learn more about the crime of driving while intoxicated. Access the site to learn the penalties for DWI, statistics for DWI crashes in Texas and resources if you’ve been charged.

DWI Statistics in Texas | TxDOT– Visit the official website for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to find statistics about DWI crashes and accidents in Texas. Access the document to learn the number of injury-related crashes, fatal crashes, and other DWI-related accidents for 2017.

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Houston Lawyer for DWI with Drugs in Texas

Have you been arrested for driving under the influence of a controlled substance? If so, then we implore you to get in touch with the experienced attorneys at The Benken Law Firm. Brian Benken and his team have defended clients in Texas court rooms for years. Both him and his team have an in-depth understanding of court procedure, creative defenses, and the ins and outs of Texas law. With such a talented team on your side, you can feel safe with The Benken Law Firm knowing your criminal case is in good hands.

Set up your first appointment free of charge at The Benken Law Firm by calling (713) 223 - 4051. We will conduct a free case review to determine all your available legal options. The Benken Law Firm accepts clients throughout the greater Harris County area and throughout all regions of Texas, which does include Bellaire, El Lago, La Porte, Houston, Pasadena, Tomball, Deer Park, and Hunter’s Creek Village.

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