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Houston Marijuana DWI Lawyer

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Houston Marijuana DWI Lawyer

Because marijuana use is becoming more commonplace throughout the nation, and many states are moving to decriminalize or completely legalize the formerly illegal substance, marijuana DWIs are on the rise — as are the many misconceptions surrounding it. 

Is it okay to drive under the influence of marijuana? Can the police test you for marijuana? Is there such a thing as a marijuana blood test? The experienced criminal attorneys from Thiessen Law Firm are here to answer these questions and more. 

If you’ve been arrested under suspicion of DWI, whether it’s a DWI first offense in Texas or your fourth marijuana DWI, you’re going to need the best DWI lawyer in Texas if you want to walk away from it with your freedom. 

Mark Thiessen is an award-winning trial attorney, an ACS-CHAL Forensic Lawyer-Scientist, and the only attorney in America who is triple board-certified in DWI. If you’ve got a case that you just can’t lose, you need to call Mark Thiessen at Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 for a free consultation.

Mark Thiessen’s Board Certifications include:

  1. Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization
  2. DUI Defense by the National College for DUI Defense as approved through the American Bar Association
  3. DUI Law by the DUI Defense Lawyers Association
  4. Board Certified Advocate in Criminal Trial Law by the NBTA Foundation

Is it legal to drive and smoke marijuana?

There are a couple of things to discuss here. In Texas, it is only illegal to possess marijuana, not to have smoked it. However, someone must possess marijuana in order to smoke it, and that makes smoking marijuana technically illegal. It is illegal to smoke marijuana and drive because you will be in possession of marijuana, which is why people so often eat weed during traffic stops in the movies — and be careful, eating your stash may help you avoid a possession charge but land you with a tampering or destroying the evidence charge.

The other angle here is that driving under the influence is illegal. Even if Texas were to legalize marijuana, they would not legalize driving under the influence of marijuana, which affects your decision-making and reaction time and is therefore illegal in every state in the U.S.

Can you get a DWI for marijuana in Texas? Texas Penal Code 49.04 defines Driving While Intoxicated as driving a motor vehicle in a public place while having either:

  • A blood alcohol content of .08% or higher; or
  • Lost 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 being said, you can get a DWI for marijuana in Texas (or any state in the U.S.). DWIs are not only reserved for those driving drunk, they are also commonly given out for driving high. The main difference between a traditional DWI for driving drunk and a marijuana DWI is how the police gather their evidence. 

How do they test for marijuana DWI?

So, how do they test for drug-related DWI in Texas? Can a breathalyzer detect drugs? Because there is no test to measure the toxicity of marijuana, nor is there an established legal limit for driving high, we often get questions about how marijuana DWI is proven. 

Usually, drug-related DWIs are tested using a 12-step protocol called the Drug Recognition Expert Protocol (DRE), which is detailed below. Keep in mind that in the following steps, the acronym DRE refers to both the process and the specialist who administers it. 

  1. BAC tests will be administered before the DRE is requested. Generally, a DRE is only requested if your blood alcohol content is 0.00 (or close to it) and therefore cannot explain what the officer perceives as intoxication. 
  2. An interview will be conducted between the DRE and the arresting officer. 
  3. A preliminary exam and first pulse reading will be taken by the DRE to establish a baseline for behavior. 
  4. An eye exam will be administered by the DRE, performing tests like the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus to determine intoxication. 
  5. Divided attention psychophysical tests, otherwise known as field sobriety tests, will be administered by the DRE. This usually includes tests like the Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand
  6. Vital signs and second pulse readings will be taken by the DRE. 
  7. Dark room exams on the subject’s eyes will be administered by the DRE. These include the use of a pupilometer to determine pupil dilation and constriction 
  8. Muscle tone exams, which determine if certain muscles are more constricted or loosened than usual, will be administered by the DRE.
  9. The injection site check and third pulse reading are an opportunity for the DRE to look for sites of recent drug use, as well as round out their vital recordings. 
  10. A statement from the subject will be requested by the DRE, ostensibly an opportunity for the subject to tell their side of the story. 
  11. Finally, the DRE will offer their evaluation of the subject, giving their opinion on whether or not they are intoxicated and what drugs they could be intoxicated on. 
  12. The toxicological exam comes last, when the DRE will request that the subject goes through chemical testing to confirm their suspicions. 

Whether you’re suspected of DWI on prescription drugs or a marijuana DWI, you’ll likely be subjected to the DRE as the police try to determine your intoxication. 

The problems with this system are too many to count. A few of the most glaring problems are that it is unreliable, subjective, and not based on modern toxicology or behavioral science — but the most egregious thing about the DRE is that it is fundamentally incapable of determining how intoxicated a subject is and that it isn’t intended to do so. 

The DRE exists solely to allow the police to more easily stick you in a jail cell. Don’t let them. Keep your mouth shut and tell them you want to talk to your lawyer, Mark Thiessen. 

How long does marijuana stay in your system for DWI?

So, how long after you smoke can you get a DWI? Because blood toxicology is not as easily measured as BAC, there is less of an exact science to this than there is to retrograde extrapolation. Again, because there is no legal limit for driving high, it is likely that a chemical test for marijuana will be used to confirm intoxication, but not necessarily to measure it. 

The science on marijuana blood tests is bad. How bad? Weed can show up on a blood test for up to a month for regular users. So if a police officer suspects that you’re intoxicated, and you smoked weed three weeks ago, they can use the affirmative blood test as evidence for a DWI arrest with no other evidence of intoxication. 

Don’t be fooled. They will use this evidence against you, and it might even stand up enough to convict you — if you don’t have the right lawyer. 

Punishments for a marijuana DWI in Texas

Punishments for a marijuana DWI in Texas will be the same as the punishments for any DWI. Although many people see driving under the influence of marijuana as a lesser offense, one that is much less dangerous than driving under the influence of alcohol, the courts do not see it that way at all. The punishments for DWI in Texas are as follows: 

OffenseChargeLicense SuspensionFinesJail Time
DWI First OffenseClass B Misdemeanor90 days – 1 yearUp to $2,0003 days – 180 days
DWI First Offense, BAC greater than .15Class A Misdemeanor180 days – 2 yearsUp to $4,00030 days – 1 year
DWI Second OffenseClass A Misdemeanor180 days – 2 yearsUp to $4,00030 days – 1 year
DWI Third or Fourth OffenseThird Degree Felony180 days – 2 yearsUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
DWI with a Child PassengerState Jail FelonyUp to 180 daysUp to $10,000180 days – 2 years
Intoxication AssaultThird Degree Felony180 days – 2 yearsUp to $10,0002 – 10 years
Intoxication ManslaughterSecond Degree Felony180 days – 2 yearsUp to $10,0002 – 20 years

Punishments for repeat offenses only get more severe, but part of the increased severity is the intensity of the prosecution you can expect to face. If you’re looking at a charge for a 2nd DWI in Texas, there is virtually no chance that a judge or jury will go easy on you, and it becomes that much more difficult to suspend their disbelief. 

Hire a marijuana DWI lawyer from Thiessen Law Firm to help you fight for your freedom

A charge for marijuana DWI comes with all of the severity of a DWI charge, plus the possibility of serious consequences related to marijuana possession in Texas. If you or a loved one has been arrested under suspicion of marijuana DWI, you need a serious DWI attorney to begin building your defense before it’s too late. 

What you need is an attorney with plenty of experience taking complex, high-stakes DWI cases to trial and winning. Mark Thiessen and the attorneys at Thiessen Law Firm do just that. 

If you have a case that you cannot afford to lose, call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 or schedule an appointment online for a free consultation.

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