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How is a Marijuana DWI Different from an Alcohol DWI in Texas?

May 26, 2022

Most of us understand that Texas law prohibits driving while intoxicated (DWI) due to alcohol. We’re familiar with the idea that law enforcement may pull someone over and ask them to agree to a breath test to determine if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is over the legal limit of 0.08. What many of us don’t realize is that a driver’s use of marijuana can lead to a DWI, too. 

There are still gaps in cannabis-related law, so it is important to get experienced criminal defense counsel—such as the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC—for a pot-related DWI as soon as possible. But let’s look at a couple of the ways the law has already shown clear differences in how a marijuana DWI differs from an alcohol-related charge. 

Alcohol vs. Marijuana DWI

Perhaps the biggest difference between an alcohol- or a cannabis-related DWI is how the police determine if someone’s actually under the influence of either drug. 

When it comes to an alcohol-related DWI, the police can use a blood or breath test to determine your BAC. If it is 0.08 or higher, you can be charged with a DWI—whether your driving seems to be impaired. And you can expect to see charges for elevated penalties if your BAC was found to be 0.15 or more. On the other hand, you can also be charged with a DWI, with a lower BAC, if the police determine that you are “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties” due to alcohol use. 

There is, of course, no equivalent BAC measurement for pot use as there’s no guidance on how much cannabis should be considered automatically over or under a legal limit. 

And even if there were such a limit, it would be difficult to know for sure when your use had met that amount: Some states are using blood tests to test for drivers’ active chemicals of marijuana, but the efficacy of these tests is still in doubt. 

That means that prosecution of marijuana-related DWIs is going to be much more reliant on the police’s assessment of your driving—if the police believe you did not have the normal use of your mental or physical faculties. 

And ironically, there will be less evidence to support a conviction than an alcohol-related DWI—which helps your defense—but that also means there will also be fewer avenues to challenge the prosecution’s evidence. Police video of an arrest may hurt or help the case, and there are other ways to impeach an officer’s testimony. But ultimately, this may come down to whether a judge or jury believes the officer. 

Contact an Experienced Weatherford DWI Attorney

If you have been arrested for any DWI—whether it’s related to the use of alcohol, cannabis, or even prescription drugs—the bottom line is that these cases can be surprisingly complex. But there’s no surprise that the consequences can be life-changing. Don’t wait. Call the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC today at (817) 406-9596 for a free consultation.