15th September 2021
Most people associate driving while intoxicated (DWI) arrests with alcohol. But DWI arrests involving drugs also commonly occur. Whenever someone is considered to be under the influence of any intoxicating substance, that can be grounds for a DWI charge.
Sand Law PLLC has skilled attorneys who can provide you with expert representation if you’ve been arrested on a charge of drug-related DWI. We will make sure your rights are protected at every turn. Get a free case review by giving us a call at 701-609-1510 or contacting us online.
Drugs That Can Cause DWI
As you would probably expect, there are many different types of drugs that can impair a person to the point they could be charged with a DWI. These are just a few of the many examples.
Marijuana is prized for its medicinal properties and used by plenty of people to help reduce anxiety, pain, and many other health issues. However, it can have effects that can make it dangerous to drive, such as drowsiness and lack of focus.
Heroin is an opiate. Like other opiates (such as morphine) heroin use can lead to feelings of extreme euphoria. It can also cause drowsiness and dull the reflexes. Some people who use heroin and decide to get behind the wheel will often find it hard to perform basic tasks, such as stopping at a red light or making a turn.
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant and can cause disorientation, confusion, and even aggression. It can also lead to dizziness. None of these make for safe driving, of course.
LSD has a tremendous impact on the mood and personality of a user and can greatly impair reaction time as well as visual acuity. Hallucinations, depth impairment, and severe mood swings are also possible.
Hallucinogenic mushrooms are among the most popular recreational drugs. Similar to LSD, mushrooms can also cause visual hallucinations, perceptive impairment, and lack of awareness. They also reduce inhibitions, which could increase the risk of reckless driving.
Commonly referred to as “meth,” this drug can also cause hallucinations and delusions. Users often find it difficult to control their impulses and may drive aggressively as a result. Other effects include drowsiness and grogginess.
Other Substances That Can Cause DWI
Motorists can get pulled over after taking drugs that aren’t at all illegal. Not only prescription drugs, but even over-the-counter medications, can impair driving by causing issues such as dizziness and drowsiness.
However, there are many other medications that can lead to a “false positive” DWI BAC (blood alcohol content) Breathalyzer test. These include the following:
- Asthma medication – Budesonide and albuterol are two prescription medications that can create a false positive on a breathalyzer. Taking these medications through an inhaler could lead to a positive test.
- OTC (over-the-counter) medicines – Nyquil and some other OTC medicines have alcohol in them. That could push your BAC level over legal limits.
- Pain relieving gels – If you have dental problems, you might take a medicine such as Anbesol to find relief. However, this medication contains 60% alcohol, so that could contribute to a high BAC level.
- Denture adhesives – People who wear dentures often use products that help keep their dentures secure in their mouth. The adhesives used in these products can trap any alcohol that someone consumes, leading to a false positive.
- Mouthwash – Yes, even mouthwash can trigger a false positive because it contains alcohol. Breath sprays can do the same thing.
How Are Drivers Tested?
When someone is pulled over for suspicion of DWI, they are typically subjected to a field sobriety test. There are three main types of tests police will typically administer. Here’s a brief look at each.
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test – The HGN test looks for any sort of involuntary jerking movement of the eyes. However, in some instances, medications used to treat issues like psychosis and epilepsy can cause this type of movement, leading an officer to mistakenly believe the person is intoxicated.
- One-leg stand – As the name implies, the DWI suspect is asked to raise one foot six inches above the ground while keeping their hands by their sides.
- The “walk and turn” test – The suspect takes nine steps, with the heel touching the toe. Then, they would turn to the same thing. The suspect must be able to perform these steps while staying in a straight line.
There are some legal medications that can affect balance, making it nearly impossible for a suspect to pass the one-leg stand and the walk-and-turn tests. These include antidepressants and blood pressure medications, among others.
What Happens When You’re Arrested for a DWI?
Being arrested for DWI can obviously be a very scary experience. It begins when a person is pulled over by an officer or tested for DWI after an accident. If this happens to you, you’ll then be given the tests mentioned above or asked to blow into a Breathalyzer. If the officer believes you have committed DWI, you’ll be put in handcuffs and then placed into the police car. Then, your vehicle will either be moved to a safe spot or impounded.
After that, you’ll be booked at the police station, a process that may take up to several hours. The police will take your fingerprints and perform a background check. Your personal information will be checked to see if you are wanted for any outstanding warrants.
Once booking is complete, you’ll be placed in a holding cell. You may or may not have to pay bail in order to be released. You may eventually have to appear in either municipal or district court. Following court proceedings, you may be subject to a fine, community service, or, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest, you may be sentenced to prison.
How Can a DWI Attorney Help You?
Just because you’ve been arrested for DWI doesn’t mean you’re guilty. There are many extenuating circumstances that could result in your charges being dropped completely. In order for that to happen, however, you’ll need the help of an experienced attorney.