Drug DWI, Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs

Drug DWI - Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs

Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs has always been illegal -- but has recently been enforced and prosecuted more frequently. While a normal DWI primarily deals with alcohol, a Drug DWI encompasses a person being under the influence of a narcotic, to the degree that they are Intoxicated. Commonly, Intoxicated is talked about in connection with Alcohol, but the Texas Statute makes no distinction if that intoxication is caused by a drug, or alcohol.

A person can be charged when narcotics, even if legally proscribed, causes a person to drive then they have lost the normal use of their mental or physical abilities.

A first time Drug DWI offense in Austin -- even if you have no other criminal record -- can have devastating effects upon your life. From License suspensions to probation and even jail time, a Drug DWI does not simply 'go away' on it's own. A Drug DWI Conviction will show up on future background checks, and potentially stop you from obtaining employment, promotions, loans/aid, and housing. The effects can be life long, since a Drug DWI conviction has no drop-off period in Texas.

You can read the specific Statute and Punishments for Drug DWI below.

What You Need To Know

As discussed on an alcohol DWI, there are still the normal issues and tests by law enforcement: the DWI Field Sobriety Tests

But a Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs investigation typically centers on two factors: the blood test, and an examination called the DRE, which stands for a Drug Recognition evaluation (or Evaluator, when referencing the officer conducting the tests).

The Drug Recognition Evaluation is a series of 12 individual tests (or questions), that are designed by law enforcement to try and accurately pinpoint what drug a person might be on. The Evaluation has been questioned by the overwhelming majority of actual medical professionals, who have serious doubts that a person with no (or minimal) medical training could actually diagnose what drug might have been taken. For that reason, probably, the final question an officer asks during the DRE is "what drug did you take?" At the conclusion of the DRE, an officer then notes his or her observations into a DRE Report, and makes a conclusion as to the drug. That report, with the officer's observations, become evidence against the arrested.

Obviously a Breath Test will not yield any information about a particular drug in a person's system. So, for Driving While Intoxicated by Drug cases, the blood test results will be important. This is true not only to show what drugs might be present, but also how much of each drug is present at the time of testing.

Be sure to read about License Suspensions as well, since there is an automatic suspension of your license at an ALR License Revocation Hearing. If suspended, Keates Law Firm can help get an Occupational License to allow for legal driving while the suspension runs its course.

Closely Related Offenses

There are several types of Drug DWI in Texas. A First Time DWI is the most common, but if a person has a prior DWI, then the charge is more serious. A DWI Second Offense is a Class A Misdemeanor and carries more severe penalties. Likewise, having two DWI priors means the next arrest will be considered a Felony DWI.

A first time DWI where the person has a breath or blood result .015% or higher, will have the DWI upgraded to a more serious DWI offense, specifically an Enhanced DWI (Class A).

Lastly, if there is no alcohol involved, or a combination of alcohol and a narcotic, then a person could be charged with a Drug DWI. This is true even if a person is taking legal prescriptions.

If you're looking for other offenses that are related to this one, you can see more information below, or click related legal offenses.

Jail Release and Bond for Drug DWI

Individuals arrested for Drug DWIs are taken to jail following the arrest -- there is no cite and release for Drug DWI arrests. The primary immediate concern for the arrested and their family is to get out of jail. Attorneys can waive 'magistration' (seeing a Judge at the Jail), and speed up the jail release process.

Keates Law Firm can act quickly to assist with a personal bond to release that person. Be sure to read more about Bond, Personal Bonds, and Travis County Jail Releases.

Sometimes an officer will file arrest warrant, which will require a Walkthrough to clear the Arrest Warrant. Doing a Walkthrough quickly is important, because most of the time a person does not go into the jail during the surrender process. Call us for more details if you have an Active Travis County Arrest Warrant.

Defenses for Drug DWI

There are a variety of strong defenses for Drug DWIs, depending on the facts. While alcohol affects people fairly the same, drugs are a different story. Drugs do not have the same effect on people, and tolerance can be built up significantly. This is important when dealing with Quantitative Analysis, which shows how much of a drug is in the person's system. For that reason, the blood test is often the best indicator (aside from the video) for whether a Drug DWI case will be dismissed or reduced -- or set for Jury Trial.

Topics of interest include DWI Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) and also DWI Breath and Blood Tests.

If you'd like to talk in detail about your situation, or if you have questions, contact us for a Free Case Consultation. Keep in mind, Keates Law Firm only practices in Austin and Travis County.

Work with an Experienced Drug DWI Attorney

Hiring the right attorney from the beginning is important. Poor legal decisions will have a negative effect upon the case as it progresses. The Keates Law Firm has over 16+ Years Experience handling Drug DWI cases. Our focus is to try and have the case dismissed against you. We don't even discuss pleas until all legal and negotiation options have been explored in detail.

Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates. No Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we are the right Law Firm for you, and give you a quote. Be sure to check out Keates Law Firm's Reviews and also our past cases and Results.

How We Can Help

The focus on a Drug DWI should be getting it either dismissed, reduced, or a non-Drug DWI offense instead of a Driving While Intoxicated by Drugs. A Dismissal will allow a person to later seek an Expunction of a Criminal Record, which is where a Judge Orders the offense records destroyed, including police reports, court records, and prosecutor files.

Dismissal is not always a realistic possibility, but there are alternatives, such as a reduced charge or a short probation that would allow for Sealing DWI Convictions later.

Keates Law Firm has a track record of reductions and dismissals for DWI. The main hurdle is convincing the prosecutor to agree to reduce or dismiss the DWI case, and Keates Law Firm has experience in Austin's Travis County courts doing just that.

Benefits of Working with Keates Law Firm:

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Payment Plans

Legal Fees are typically unexpected, so Keates Law Firm realizes that most people don't have thousands of dollars immediatly available after an unexpected arrest. Keates Law Firm offers no interest Payment Plans for legal fees for cases in Austin, Travis County. Most Payment Plans require a credit or debit card on file, with a deposit for representation. Attorney Payment Plans are paid monthly with no interest. Payment Plan Lawyers in Austin, Travis County are few, but Keates Law Firm has had success and many happy clients who appreciate spreading out legal fees over payments. Check out our Austin Attorney Payment Plans page for more details, or call for a Free Consultation.

The Law in Texas on Drug DWI


(a) A person commits an offense if the person is intoxicated while operating a motor vehicle in a public place.

(2) "Intoxicated" means: (A) 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;

Drug DWI Punishments

Most Drug DWIs are Class B Misdemeanors, meaning they are punishable by probation, jail up to 6 months, or a fine of up to $2,000 -- or all three. Even a first time Drug DWI can result in the potential for jail time, however that's far more common on a DWI-2 (one DWI Prior), or multiple DWIs. An open container of alcohol in the car adds a minimum term of six days in jail. Also, if the alcohol content is .15% or higher the DWI offense can be enhanced to a Class A misdemeanor. There are also more severe Driver's License implications for those offenses, including suspensions and surcharges.

Penalties for Drug DWI
Level of Offense Punishment
Class C Misdemeanor Not Jailable, No more than $500 fines
Class B Misdemeanor Not more than 180 days in a county jail, and/or no more than $2,000 fines
Class A Misdemeanor Not more than 1 year in a county jail, and/or no more than $4,000 fines
3rd Degree Felony 2-10 Years in Prison, and/or no more than $10,000 fines

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens on a first DWI in Austin Texas?
A first time DWI in Austin Texas typically is a Class B Misdemeanor. The maximum punishment is 6 months in jail and/or fines up to $2,000. Depending on the facts, often times probation or a reduced charge is possible without jail. Breath or Blood results above 0.15% BAC result in an enhanced DWI, which is a Class A Misdemeanor (Maximum 1 year jail and/or fines up to $4,000). It's important to note there are other consequences of a DWI, such as Surcharges, Interlock Devices, License Suspensions, and more.

Will I serve jail time for 1st DWI in Austin Texas?
Initially, you'll be taken to jail after being arrested for a DWI. In Austin, Travis County, you generally will be released within 8-24 hours. Hiring an Attorney who handles Jail Releases can reduce the amount of time in Jail. Typically in Austin, a person will not serve jail time as a punishment for the DWI at sentencing.

Should I get a lawyer for a first time DWI in Austin Texas?
Absolutely. DWI cases are complex, with new case-law and a variety of technical breath or blood testing that needs to be reviewed. Representing yourself on a DWI is a great way to get a terrible resolution of your case -- possibly paying more in fines, court fees, and surcharges that you would have paid in Attorney Fees.

Can you drive after a DWI in Austin Texas?
After a DWI arrest, a person may drive for 40 days using the DPS paperwork given by the officer. If no ALR Hearing is requested within 15 days of arrest, the person's license will be suspended on the 41st day after arrest. The person may then drive legally, during that suspension, with an Occupational Driver's License.

Do you offer a Free Consultation on DWI Cases?
Yes. Call Us to talk about your particular case and situation. It's a 100% Free Phone Consultation with Criminal Defense Attorney Keates.\nNo Sales Pitches, No Hassles. We'll see if we can help, and give you a quote.

What Our Clients are Saying

"He was more than prepared and encouraged going to trial on the DWI. Robert has truly surpassed all expectations and I highly recommend his services!" -Laura W.
"DWI dismissed. Paid $75 for a reduced traffic ticket, and was done! No jail, no probation, no community service. I absolutely recommend Robert. -Jonathan P.

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