A man putting a pill in a drink

Can you be charged with DWI in Texas if your drink has been spiked? 

In Texas, drink spiking is a real phenomenon and much more common than many people realize. Last year, for example, police warned people of a surge in drink spiking and to take extra precautions when ordering drinks from bars. Drink spiking is typically done with the goal of causing a person to blackout or become unconscious or defenseless using drugs such as gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB), Rohypnol or other types of drugs. As can be imaged, most victims of drink spiking are women but the phenomenon can also occur to men. But what happens when a person’s drink is spiked and the person is arrested for DWI? Can involuntary intoxication due to having your drink spiked be a defense to DWI in Texas? 

Is involuntary intoxication a defense to a crime in Texas?

Under Texas law, having your drink spiked would be considered a form of involuntary intoxication. In some instances, involuntary intoxication can be a defense to a crime. In 1979 in the Torres case, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the highest criminal court in Texas) created a test that must be met to successfully raise the defense of involuntary intoxication. Under that test, involuntary intoxication is a defense to a criminal charge when it is shown that 1) the defendant did not voluntarily take the intoxicant or drug; and 2) as a result of his intoxication, the defendant did not know that his conduct was wrong or was incapable of following the law.

Depending on the facts of the case, this can be a tough burden because there must be some evidence presented that the intoxication was not only involuntary but that the intoxication also prevented the defendant from realizing his conduct was wrong. For example, if a person claims that they only engaged in a robbery because their drink had been spiked, then some evidence must be presented to convince a jury that the defendant took the drug involuntarily and that the drug caused him to not realize that what he was doing was wrong. 

How can you claim involuntary intoxication in a DWI if you have been drugged?

The defense of involuntary intoxication may be difficult to raise as a defense to some charges (like in the robbery example above), but it may be easier to raise in DWI cases. For example, if a defendant was at a bar and received a spike drink, the defendant might not have a reason to realize that driving could be a violation of the law, particularly if she only consumed a small amount of alcohol. 

In a DWI case, the defense of involuntary intoxication would typically be raised at trial (unless your DWI attorney has a strong reason to believe that the case would be dismissed by a prosecutor, it is typically not a good idea to share your trial strategy with the prosecutor). To corroborate a claim of involuntary intoxication, ideally, a DWI attorney would have a breath, blood, or hair follicle test showing the presence of a drug typically used to spike drinks (this can be challenging because many substances do not remain in breath or blood very long and may not appear in a hair follicle test). 

Additionally, testimony from a toxicologist (a medical professional who has expertise with intoxicants) to explain how drugs such as GHB or Rohypnol function and whether the defendant’s appearance on the arrest video was consistent with that type of intoxication. A toxicologist can also explain how certain drugs can affect a person’s decision-making and risk-taking and why someone under the influence of a drug like GHB might do things that they would normally not do (for example, drive after drinking a large amount of alcohol). Testimony from the defendant or people who saw the defendant on the night of the arrest can also be helpful to prove that the defendant was not acting normally may also be helpful. 

Depending on the facts, involuntary intoxication can be a powerful defense in a DWI case but it is important to speak with an experienced DWI attorney quickly. If you suspect that your drink was spiked prior to being arrested for DWI, an experienced attorney can advise you on whether it may be possible to obtain testing to prove that your drink was spiked. If you have been arrested for DWI anywhere in the Greater Houston area, call Ceja Law Firm today. Mr. Ceja and his staff are all fluent in Spanish and are ready to assist with any DWI or intoxication-related charge.