In a nutshell, most people drink and most people also take prescription medications. The effects of alcohol vary. But generally, alcohol intensifies medicine side-effects like drowsiness and lightheadedness. It often takes only a tiny amount of alcohol to greatly intensify these side-effects.
Many over-the-counter medicines, especially allergy, flu, and cold medications, have similar effects. Moreover, alcohol can sometimes cause permanent damage if it is combined with certain medications.
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 an extremely broad definition that has some serious 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 does not register Xanax as ethanol.
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 mood-altering substance will do.
The alcohol-drug combination is a good example of a situation in which a driver can blow under a .08 and still be charged with 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. 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. The prosecutor does not need your help to obtain a conviction, so do not offer it.
Work With an Assertive Lawyer
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 cases in Harris County and nearby jurisdictions.