Most states enact strict DWI laws to combat drugged driving to keep the roads safe. Drugged driving means being under the influence of a legal or illegal substance that impairs the driver’s ability to make rational decisions. In some states, it doesn’t matter the amount in order for a driver to be charged with DWI, but a prosecutor in Texas has to prove driver impairment.
Tests for drugged driving
The officer who tests the driver for impairment could use one of several tests to get proof. The most common test an officer uses when they stop impaired drivers is the Breathalyzer, which measures blood alcohol levels, but there is no standard test for drug levels. The officer may conduct a saliva test using a stick and a second test if it is positive or a vision test by having the driver follow an object with their eyes.
Some officers use the walk-and-turn test, which requires the driver to take nine steps in one direction, turn and repeat in the other direction. They will also question the driver about their health and preexisting conditions or conduct further tests if needed.
Because of the increase in drugged drivers who have little or no alcohol in their bloodstream, some jurisdictions have specially trained drug recognition experts, or DREs. If any tests detect impairment, a DRE may be called to review the results and talk to the officer about observations they made.
In some states, the officer and DRE have to prove that the driver had been driving on a public road. Though most DWIs occur on the road, a driver may also be charged even if they aren’t driving. For this to apply, the driver must have been in control of the vehicle, such as occupying the driver’s seat or with their keys in the ignition. The more it looks like a driver had intentions of driving, the more likely it is that they will be charged.
A DWI comes with many penalties that can affect the driver’s future. A driver needs an experienced criminal law attorney to help them protect their rights and understand their options.