What substances can contribute to a DUI in Texas and what is the impact on your car insurance? I wanted to raise these questions in light of an article written by AP journalist Michael Balsamo which appeared in the Dallas Morning News the other day. The article was about a young woman who was killed while riding in a friend’s car when they were struck by a driver who’d inhaled aerosol dust cleaner in order to get high.
Prosecutors attempted to charge the impaired driver with vehicular manslaughter, however, New York courts threw the case out due to the fact that aerosol dust cleaner is not included on a list of banned substances that would have led to his conviction. The list of banned substances is 34 pages long, however, if a New York driver is impaired by something other than what’s on the list, then they are technically not impaired.
Had this tragedy occurred in Texas, prosecutors would have been able to successfully convict him of vehicular manslaughter. Texas is one of 37 states with an expanded definition of what substances may contribute to a DUI. The wording in the Types of Drugs Prohibited reads, “Drugs, controlled substances … and any other substance (e.g. inhalants, designer drugs, etc.) that could impair normal mental or physical faculties.”
This means aerosol dust cleaners, K-2 or other synthetic compounds, or homemade concoctions. It could even be applied to prescription drugs or over the counter medications, whether abused or taken improperly, could result in a DUI conviction in Texas. The cost of a DUI is expensive too!
- First Offense: Up to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, and license suspension of 90 days to 1 year.
- Second Offense: Up to 1 year in jail, up to a $4,000 fine, and license suspension of up to 2 years.
- Third Offense: 2 years of jail time, fine of up to $10,000, and license suspension of up to 2 years.
Add to the fines, jail time and license suspension, the increased cost of car insurance. Once the car insurance company notes a DUI conviction, rates can increase 100% or more for up to five years. Some carriers may not renew the policy for someone with a DUI and that can drive rates even higher.
Regardless of the fines, license suspensions, and increased car insurance rates, people will still drive under the influence whether because they don’t believe they are impaired or accidentally. I’m not sure there’s an easy solution. It would be wonderful if people would order a ride from Uber or the local taxi service when they are impaired, but many won’t until they are faced with either a life altering experience like the young man in New York or sit in a Texas court.
What would you do to cut down on impaired driving? Share your thoughts, experiences, and questions with me on my Facebook, Google +, and LinkedIn pages. I’d love to hear from you!