One of the first things the police in Houston do when they pull a driver over is check to see if they appear impaired. This means they check to see if you’re under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A lot of people think that the cops can only test you for alcohol. And, in a way that’s correct. While at the traffic stop, there’s no way for the cops to test you and immediately find out if you’re under the influence of drugs. There is currently no breathalyzer to measure impairment by drugs and illegal substances. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be arrested and charged with DWI in Houston.
Legally, DWI means “driving while intoxicated.” You can be intoxicated by any substance, even legally prescribed medications. As a driver, it’s up to you to make sure that you can drive safely. If you take any substance that impairs your ability to drive, you’re putting yourself and the public at risk. This is why it’s against the law to drive while under the influence. It’s not just to punish you. It’s to keep other people safe.
This is why, especially with the current opiate epidemic, police are cracking down on driving while under the influence of drugs. A driver can be even more lethal while using heroin or meth as they can be after drinking a 6-pack of beer. The cops in Houston understand this. That’s why they’re trained to notice when someone is under the influence of narcotics or other illegal drugs.
If you’re charged with DWI in Houston, whether due to alcohol or drugs, you’re going to need help. These charges carry heavy sentences including possible jail time, a license suspension and stiff fines. Let an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston help prepare your defense.
How Can the Police Test for Drugs?
The police may not be able to test you for drugs with a breathalyzer like they can for alcohol. But that doesn’t mean they can’t test you at all. There are a couple of things they can do:
- If they find drugs on your person or in your car, they can test them on the spot. For example, if they find a bag of heroin in your glove compartment or pockets, they can test it on site to see if it’s really heroin. There are portable test kits that make a liquid turn a certain color depending on what kind of drug it is. If your drugs test positive, you can be arrested and charged with DWI.
- The officers can request that you submit to a urine or blood test. Even if you don’t consent, they can get a warrant to make you submit to these tests. They’ll send your sample out to a lab and they’ll test it to see if it contains any illegal substance. It can take some time to do this. Once the test comes back, your Houston criminal lawyer will be made aware. Once this occurs, the odds of getting your charges reduced or dismissed go down.
- Even with the on-site drug test, law enforcement will still send the samples out to a lab to be tested. Once the results come back, the prosecutor will decide whether to dismiss the charges or proceed ahead.
The Sentence is the Same Regardless of Whether You’re Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs
It really doesn’t matter which substance you’re caught using. If you’re charged with DWI, you’re going to face the same possible penalties. However, if you’re arrested for DWI due to something like cocaine or heroin, you’re also going to be facing possession charges. Your Houston criminal defense lawyer will have to work even harder to get your charges reduced or dismissed. You may face greater fines and additional jail time.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Lawyer if You’ve Been Charged With DWI in Houston
If you’ve been charged with any serious crime, you need to call an experienced Houston criminal defense lawyer right away. Your first hearing will be held within a day or two of being arrested. You can’t afford to handle this on your own.
You need to rely on someone who has handled serious cases before. If you’re charged with DWI in Houston, you are going to be facing possible time in prison. It will take a skilled defense attorney to win your case or negotiate a lesser sentence. Call and schedule your initial consultation today before you lose any more time.