The evolving landscape of marijuana legislation across the United States has raised several important questions about its possible societal impacts. One issue at the forefront of concern is the intersection of marijuana use and the law, especially driving while intoxicated (DWI) statutes. This is a particular concern in states like Texas, where marijuana remains illegal for recreational use. In Harris County, Texas, where the state’s most populous city of Houston is located, understanding the implications of marijuana-related DWI offenses and the associated penalties is important.
Marijuana Laws in Texas
Before discussing marijuana laws in Harris County as they relate to DWIs, it is essential to understand the broader legal context surrounding marijuana in the State of Texas. The use and possession of marijuana for recreational purposes are illegal in the Lone Star State. (Note: Texas does have a medical marijuana program that allows for limited use of cannabis products for eligible Texans; this compassionate use program is strictly regulated.) Across Texas, including Harris County, possession and use of marijuana for non-medical purposes can result in criminal charges. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office currently does not prosecute possession cases if the amount is less than four ounces.
Driving while intoxicated by marijuana is treated similarly to alcohol-related DWI offenses in Harris County. Law enforcement officers employ various methods to determine impairment, such as field sobriety tests and blood or urine tests to detect the presence of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana. In Texas, there is no “per se” or “legal limit” of active THC like there is with the 0.08 BAC for alcohol related DWI cases. Other states have a blood THC concentration of 5 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) or higher as the level that is considered evidence of impairment.
Marijuana DWI: Harris County Penalties
As marijuana continues to become more easily accessible, the number of people in Texas driving under the influence also continues to increase. Charges for marijuana DWIs can range from misdemeanor to felony charges, depending on the quantity of marijuana involved. For first-time offenders convicted of marijuana-related DWI in Harris County, Texas, the penalties can include everything from fines and jail time to driver’s license suspensions and increased car insurance costs. In some cases, the court also may order the installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender’s vehicle, which requires the driver to pass a breath test before starting the car. Penalties for marijuana-related DWI offenses in Harris County can vary depending on a range of factors such as the level of impairment, any prior DWI convictions, and other circumstances specific to each case.
Being under the influence of marijuana in Harris County for a DWI first offense is a serious infraction. In the Houston metroplex, marijuana-related DWI offenses have far-reaching impacts on offenders. It is crucial to understand the current laws and consequences associated with driving while impaired by marijuana in the Lone Star State. If you or a loved one is charged with a marijuana DWI in the area, but are not familiar with how the law could apply in your case, consider seeking legal assistance from professional attorney Collin Evans of Collin Evans Law. Mr. Evans has an in-depth understanding of Texas drug laws and over fifteen years of experience fighting back against these types of charges. Contact Collin Evans to ask questions during a free consultation.