By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Texas Penal Code Section 49.01(2) defines intoxication as
“(A) not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of those substances, or any other substance into the body; or
(B) having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.”
As you can see the legislature used the word “or” between subsection (A) and (B). This means that you can be charged with DWI where the officer believes you “do not have the normal use…” regardless of whether a breath test was taken — and regardless of whether a breath test result was below 0.08.
Technical Supervisors, who are the state’s “breath test experts” at trial have training on alcohol, it’s effects on the body, and it’s effects on driving. They testify, in general, that no one has the “normal use” above 0.08 for the purposes of operating a motor vehicle and some lack the “normal use” below 0.08.
The end analysis is simple — if the officer says you’ve lost the “normal use,” then you are getting arrested for DWI regardless if you blow a 0.11 or a 0.06.
Many police officers will also suspect marijuana, narcotics, or medications may be responsible for someone’s condition even if there is little or no evidence of it.
As a former Collin County Prosecutor and as a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Dallas and Collin Counties, I have yet to see or hear of anyone that got taken back to the police station for DWI, was asked to take a breath test, and wasn’t charged with DWI regardless of the result. Maybe it has happened. I’ve just never heard about it.
This is part of the lose-lose equation which is the breath test. And then the police actually wonder why people refuse the breath test all the time.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult with an attorney.