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Marijuana DWI

Most associate driving while impaired (DWI) offenses with the consumption of alcohol. However, DWI is an umbrella term that covers the impairment of alcohol or any drug such as marijuana. In addition, if you have marijuana on your person during the stop, you may face additional charges for possession.

A DWI should not be taken lightly. A person convicted of a DWI could be forced to pay steep fines and even serve jail or prison time. Additional possession charges can enhance these penalties even further. If you or someone you know has been charged with driving impaired on marijuana, it’s imperative that you gain trusted legal representation. 

Houston Attorney for Marijuana DWI in Texas

DWI charges can have a serious impact on your life. Those convicted of a DWI may be required to pay large fines, perform community service, participate in a court-ordered program, and even serve prison or jail time. You cannot be idle in this legal process. Contact Matthew Horak at Horak Law for an experienced marijuana DWI lawyer.

Matthew Horak is a respected attorney who can build a formidable defense for your charges. He understands DWI laws and procedures and has defended numerous clients of DWI. Don’t suffer through this alone and let Horak Law steer you in the right direction.

Call now at (713) 225-8000 for a free consultation. Horak Law defends those accused of marijuana-related offense throughout the greater Houston metroplex area and surrounding communities including Magnolia Park, River Oaks, Midtown, Brays Oaks, and Midtown. 

Overview of Driving While Impaired on Marijuana in Texas

How Marijuana is Found in DWI Testing

In Texas, a person who’s impaired by any controlled substance while operating a motor vehicle will be charged with a DWI. Marijuana is included, and it’s classified as a penalty group 1 drug in Texas. When a person is pulled over for suspected DWI, law enforcement will use chemical testing to determine if a person is impaired by marijuana. Typically, police officers will use urine for suspected drug-related DWIs. 

Those who have a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher may be charged with a. DWI. Breath samples cannot detect cannabis, but urine or blood analysis does. In fact, metabolites and other traces of marijuana can stay in your system for up to six weeks. You may test positive for marijuana and not have consumed the substance that day. This is why it’s highly advised that you don’t submit to chemical testing for a marijuana DWI stop.

Texas Implied Consent Laws

The state of Texas has adopted implied consent laws for those who refuse testing. Texas Transportation Code § 724.012 states that any driver who uses Texas public roads is implicitly agreeing to chemical testing by law enforcement. Despite this, you can still refuse chemical testing for a DWI stop but understand there may be consequences.  

Choosing to refuse chemical testing will result in an automatic suspension of your license which is referred to as an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). ALR isn’t a criminal penalty, but instead an administrative action by the Department of Public Safety (DPS). Your license may be suspended for up to 180 days and the refusal could be used against you in trial. 

Although refusing chemical testing comes with penalties, it may still be the best option. If you’re impaired or have consumed marijuana recently refusing to comply may actually help your case. Understand that refusing chemical testing could result in an arrest.

Law enforcement can still arrest you for the DWI if they have probable cause. However, the prosecution will not have any concrete scientific evidence against you. It’s possible that you may have your charges reduced or dismissed due to insufficient evidence. Additionally, you could retain your license by requesting an administrative license suspension hearing. At the hearing you and an attorney can present evidence as to why the suspension should be refuted.

Penalties for Marijuana DWI in Harris County, Texas

The penalties for a DWI are reliant on your criminal history. If you have one or more prior DWI conviction your legal consequences may be enhanced. Certain aggravating factors as having a child accompanying you can elevate your penalties. 

The following are the possible penalties for a DWI conviction in Texas. 

  • First Offense – Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by:
    • Up to $2,000 in fines;
    • Up to 180 days in jail;
    • Community service;
    • A three-year surcharge of up to $2,000 a year; and
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to one year.
  • Second Offense – Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by:
    • Up to $4,000 in fines;
    • Up to 12 months in jail;
    • Community service;
    • Possible installation of an ignition interlock device;
    • A three-year surcharge of up to $2,000; and
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to two years.
  • Third Offense – Third-degree felony which is punishable by:
    • Up to $10,000 in fines;
    • Up to 10 years in prison;
    • Community service;
    • Required installation of an ignition interlock device;
    • three-year surcharge of up to $2,000; and
    • Driver’s license suspension for up to two years.

The penalties for a marijuana DWI can be enhanced if certain aggravating factors are present during the offense. If a person has an open container of alcohol in their immediate possession, he or she will be required to serve a jail sentence for at least six days.

A person will also have enhanced penalties if he or she is driving impaired on marijuana with a child. The penalty for a marijuana DWI with a child passenger is a state jail felony. The following are the penalties for a state jail felony:

  • A fine up to $10,000; and
  • Up to 24 months in jail.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Texas

A common charge coinciding a marijuana DWI offense is possession. Possessing any trace amounts of cannabis is an illegal offense in Texas. Drivers who have been pulled over for a DWI stop may be searched for drugs. If any marijuana is found, they will likely face both DWI and possession charges.  

Penalties for cannabis possession are reliant on the amount found on the alleged offender.  The following are the penalties for marijuana possession in Texas.

  • Two Ounces or Less
    • Class B misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
  • Two Ounces, But Less Than Four Ounces
    • Class A misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
  • Five Pounds or Less Than Four Ounces
    • Third-degree felony which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • 2,000 Pounds or Less, But More than 50 Pounds
    • Second-degree felony which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
  • 2,000 Pounds or More
    • First-degree felony which is punishable by up to 99 years in prison or life imprisonment and a fine of up to $50,000.

Additional Resources 

Texas DWI Laws – Visit the official website for Texas state laws and legislation. Gain access to Chapter 49 of the Texas Penal Code which details information about DWI offenses in Texas. Find more information about aggravated factors, penalties, and admissible defenses in court.

Marijuana Drug Fact Sheet -Visit the official website for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and find more information surrounding cannabis. Learn what chemicals are in marijuana, the street names, how it’s consumed, and the short and long-term effects on the body.

Lawyer for Driving While Impaired on Cannabis in Houston, Texas

If you or someone you know has been charged with a DWI involving marijuana, you must act now. A DWI can result in harsh penalties such as fines or incarceration. Additionally, if you have any marijuana in your car during the DWI stop you could also be juggling possession charges.

Do what’s best for you and don’t proceed any further before you hire a skilled attorney. Matthew Horak is a criminal defense attorney with years of experience. He has defended numerous clients with all types of DWIs through his sturdy defense strategies. Don’t go through this process alone. Call Horak Law

Call today at (713) 225-8000 and schedule a free consultation surrounding your charges. Horak Law practices law at the Harris County Criminal Court and surrounding counties including Waller County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, and Liberty County.

This article was last updated on November 27, 2018.

  • Texas Board of Legal Specialization | Criminal Law
  • National College for DUI Defense
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Laywers
  • Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association
  • Matt Horak has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer Legion