In a nutshell, most people drink and most people also take prescription medications. The effects of alcohol vary. Alcohol can intensify some medicine side-effects like drowsiness and lightheadedness. It can take much less alcohol to intensify medication side-effects than it would take to become intoxicated on alcohol alone.
The medication-alcohol combination has some legal effects as well, and that’s the subject of this post.
Circumstantial Evidence DWIs
Section 49.01(2)(a) of the Texas Penal Code defines “intoxication” as “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.” That’s a broad definition that has some very strict implications.
Assume a driver took a prescription Xanax and then had a beer with lunch. Neither of those acts are illegal, assuming the prescription was valid. Furthermore, if the person took a Breathalyzer test, the results would almost certainly be less than .08. The Breathalyzer will not detect the Xanax at all.
But an officer could decide that the driver was still “intoxicated” due to a combination of alcohol and the drug. Note that the substance does not have to be a “controlled substance” or even a “dangerous drug.” Any faculty-altering substance can be the basis for intoxication.
The alcohol-drug combination is a common example of a situation in which a driver can blow under a .08 and still be convicted of DWI.
How to Deal With Alcohol-Drug Interaction DWIs
When an officer pulls you over, you must identify yourself and turn over proof of insurance as requested. You have the right to refuse to answer any other questions, including questions about medications taken. It’s important to exercise that right.
Politely refuse to answer questions like “Have you been drinking?” or “Are you taking any medication?” As a defendant, you have absolutely nothing to gain by answering these questions. It’s almost impossible to talk your way out of a DWI in the twenty-first century. Chances are, if the officer pulls you over and asks intoxication-related questions, the officer will almost certainly arrest you regardless of what you say or do not say.
Whether the officer warns you or not, your statements at a traffic stop can almost always be used against you later in court. Do not give the prosecution information they would not otherwise have.
Work With a Winning Lawyer for the Best Defense
The alcohol-drug combination can transform a routine traffic stop into a DWI arrest. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Houston, contact the Law Office of Jim Medley. We routinely handle DWI cases in Harris County, Texas.