Although many states in recent years have legalized medical marijuana and even recreational marijuana in some cases, Texas has not followed this trend. With the narrow exception of low-THC cannabidiol oil prescribed for intractable epilepsy, marijuana remains illegal under Texas law in any amount and any circumstances. As a result, driving while under the influence of marijuana, or marijuana DWI, is illegal in the state of Texas.
Marijuana can affect judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time. All these characteristics arguably are necessary for safe driving. However, studies have produced mixed results as to whether marijuana truly impairs persons to the extent that they cannot safely drive.
Marijuana DWI in Texas
Under Tex. Pen. Code § 49.04, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated. Texas law defines individuals as intoxicated when they do not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties, due to alcohol, controlled substances, dangerous drugs, or a combination of these substances. Therefore, to the extent that marijuana has caused impairment to your mental or physical faculties and you choose to drive, you could be charged with marijuana DWI.
The potential penalties for marijuana DWI are the same as those for DWI due to alcohol. For a first offense, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, which can carry a potential term of incarceration of up to 180 days, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. Drivers convicted of DWI also will face a mandatory driver’s license, increased motor vehicle insurance rates, and annual surcharges assessed by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) of $1,000 per year for three years. A DWI sentence also may include mandatory community service, drug rehabilitation or counseling, and vehicle impoundment.
Furthermore, if you possess marijuana at the time of your arrest, you may also be charged with possession of marijuana. While this does not occur in all jurisdictions in Texas, as some no longer prosecute possession of small amounts of marijuana, it is a possibility in other jurisdictions. Otherwise, the prosecutor can use the presence of marijuana as evidence in support of the marijuana DWI charge.
If you or a family member is facing any type of criminal charges, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through often-complex criminal proceedings. Call us today at (512) 399-2311 and schedule an appointment with one of our criminal defense lawyers and learn how we can assist you.