Texas has some of the strictest controlled substance laws, with stiff penalties for those convicted. An Austin drug charges attorney is the most crucial asset when arrested for a DWI or a DUI in this state.
Possession of a controlled substance is a felony in Texas. Anyone arrested on DWI charges faces two consecutive court proceedings. The first is a driving license hearing that you should submit within 15 days. The second is the criminal DWI charge. Understanding the gravity of the situation and the factors that could make things worse proves vital when you stand trial.
What Constitutes a Controlled Substance?
A controlled substance is any illicit drug or prescription medication for which the state or the federal government regulates its possession, manufacture, or use. Texas defines controlled substances in the Texas Controlled Substances Act and sorts them into different groups called “Schedules.”
The act identifies controlled substances as adulterants, drugs, and dilutants and lists them by name in Schedules I through V or Penalty Group 1, 1-A, 2, 2-A, 3, or 4. Controlled substances, as defined by the State of Texas, do not include distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco. Controlled substances include meth, heroin, and cocaine. The definition also contains compounds used to manufacture narcotics, synthetic steroids, depressants, and stimulants.
Isn’t Marijuana Legal in Texas?
Since the 2018 Farm Bill, the marijuana scene has changed drastically, with multiple states allowing the recreational use of marijuana. As a result, pot prosecutions have dropped significantly in Texas. While marijuana might be legal in Texas, driving while high is not. Intoxication is defined in the Texas Penal Code. If convicted, you face between 72 days to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines depending on whether it’s the first, second, or third offense.
DWI cases are unique, and the exact conviction depends on circumstances that can make the case better or worse for you. Making the right decisions quickly, like calling an Austin drug charges attorney, can improve the outcome and even secure an acquittal.
What Aspects Can Worsen Your DWI Case?
The potential penalties and charges you face when arrested for DWI depend on various factors. The law might be harsh depending on the following aspects:
You have several DUIs or DWIs
Repeat offenders face severe charges. You could get between 70 to 180 days or a $2,000 fine as a first-time offender. A third-time offender can get up to 10 years. The exact penalty you get is not only limited to the number of similar offenses but also to other factors, most of which might be within your control.
Having a minor in the car
Having a minor in the car during the arrest will make your case considerably worse because you will also be charged with child endangerment, which under Texas law, is a felony. If you’ve been arrested after an accident and the minor is hurt, your driving license could be revoked, and you could be sentenced to not less than two years in prison.
Manufacturing and delivery
Texas law defines “delivery” as “to transfer, constructively or actually to another, a controlled substance, counterfeit substance or drug paraphernalia regardless of whether there is an agency relationship.” Manufacturing and delivery attract stiffer penalties of up to 99 years and a fine of up to $100,000.
The penalties depend on the amount of paraphernalia or controlled substance found in your possession and what your charges are.
Law enforcement may consider upgrading the charges if they stop you with ¼ ounce or more of a controlled substance or drug paraphernalia.
Regardless of the extent of the situation, you find yourself in, hiring an Austin drug charges attorney can significantly mitigate the uncertainty and improve the outcome.
Do Some Drugs Carry Worse Penalties?
Texas has the harshest laws when it comes to controlled subjects. Being arrested with controlled substances could easily land you in prison or face stiff fines. However, the type of substance found on your person when arrested could determine the severity of the penalty.
In Austin, being arrested with drugs in penalty group 1 like heroin, methadone, opiates, codeine, cocaine, oxycodone, and Vicodin is a felony that could land you in state jail. The same applies to drugs in Penalty Group 1-A and Penalty Group 2. Controlled substances in Penalty Group 3 like peyote, valium, and Xanax are a Class A Misdemeanor. At the same time, those in Penalty Group 4, like mixtures containing limited amounts of active medical ingredients, are a Class B Misdemeanor.
Remember that the amount of the substance and your criminal record will also determine the penalty and outcome of the legal proceedings.
What Can Happen During a Drug Bust?
Unlike DUI, where law enforcement has aids like field sobriety tests or alcohol detectors, detecting you are high is much harder, especially considering that blood tests aren’t very accurate.
However, most local police departments will have a trained Drug Recognition Expert on the scene to identify signs of intoxication like slurred speech, dilated pupils, sweating, and shaking, among other indications.
The DRE expert might try to gather evidence during the stop to warrant any further proceedings that could lead to an arrest. Unfortunately, in Texas, this probable cause is not defined. The officer could use the physical symptoms to compel you to swab your mouth.
Police can also use more advanced technology like the Drager 5000, which analyzes swabs collected from the driver’s check for marijuana, opioids, cocaine, methadone, cocaine, and other popular controlled substances.
When Should I Call an Austin Drug Charges Attorney?
You should call an Austin drug charges attorney following your DWI arrest. The attorneys at Stephen T. Bowling are available on weekends and nights and focus primarily on DWI/DUI-related cases. With experience in law enforcement and prosecution, we can use all this experience to defend our clients.
We’ve been a part of the Texas legal system for many years and fully understand the legal pitfalls and complexities involved. We know where to look and the cases and laws we can use when fighting for you. While the approach to every case is different, our goal is always to get our clients the best outcome. Call us day or night to set up a free consultation for your case.