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DWI Prescription Drugs

Brian Foley is a DWI lawyer and criminal defense attorney in Conroe, Texas representing people charged with DWI Prescription Drugs in Houston, Conroe, the Woodlands, and the surrounding area.

Can I be arrested for DWI if I was prescribed the drugs or medication? 

Yes. Even prescription medication that is taken in accordance with Doctor’s orders can cause you to become legally intoxicated.  You can be arrested for DWI if a police officer believes you have lost the normal use of your mental or physical faculties based on the introduction of alcohol or a drug or “any other substance” into the body. 


If the prescription that you are taking is classified as a central nervous system depressant or (CNS depressant) then you are more likely to become impaired when under the effects of the prescription drug. 


Some commonly prescribed CNS depressants are:


  • diazepam (Valium)

  • clonazepam (Klonopin)

  • alprazolam (Xanax)

  • triazolam (Halcion)

  • estazolam (Prosom)


You may also have your mental faculties affected by what are known as narcotic analgesics.  Here are some common narcotic analgesics:


  • codeine.

  • hydrocodone (Zohydro ER, Vicodin, Lortab)

  • oxycodone (OxyContin, Roxicodone, Percocet)

  • methadone (Methadose, Diskets, Dolophine)

  • hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)

  • morphine (Avinza, Kadian, MSIR, MS Contin)

  • fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic Sublimaze)

  • oxymorphone (Opana)


Unlike blood alcohol testing there is no legal limit related to prescription medication.  So where you may be found to be intoxicated without the loss of any mental or physical faculties if you have a blood alcohol concentration of greater than 0.08 you cannot be convicted solely because you have a specific amount of Xanax or hydrocodone in your blood.  DWI prescription drug cases often involve testimony about the “therapeutic range” of the drug in question.  However DPS or other experts on forensic blood testing will not be able to testify that a particular defendant was intoxicated based solely on the amount of a prescription drug found in the blood of a defendant.  This makes prescription drug DWI cases difficult for prosecutors and it could give your case an easier path to a favorable outcome.

What evidence would be important at trial?

Officers have the responsibility of collecting and preserving evidence for use at trial on any criminal case.  In a prescription drug DWI some of the most important evidence will be pill bottle if one was found in the vehicle or prescription drug history of the person accused. 


However, the most important piece of evidence in a prescription drug DWI case is the officer’s video of what happened that night. After a criminal defense attorney has reviewed the video in your DWI case they should be able to give you a better idea of what outcomes to expect.  Every case is different and no particular outcome can ever be promised by an attorney.

How do you defend DWI Prescription Drug cases?

A DWI on prescription drugs can be defended in many different ways.  First you can allege that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make the original contact with the accused.  This could be because there was insufficient basis for a traffic stop, or that an anonymous 911 caller’s tip was not sufficiently corroborated. 


The next step in defending a DWI prescription drugs is investigating if there was in fact evidence that the defendant ingested a prescription drug.  If there is no smell of alcohol on the defendant and the police do not collect a blood sample it is going to be extremely difficult for the State to prove that the cause of any slowness or hesitation on the part of the accused citizen is a result of the use of prescription drugs and not some other reason like simply being tired.

What is the punishment for a DWI Prescription Drug case?

A DWI first offense where the intoxicating substance is a prescription drug is a Class B Misdemeanor and the maximum punishment is 180 days in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.  There are also DWI traffic fines imposed by the State that range from $3,000 - $6,000.

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