For many observers, the charge of driving while intoxicated involves operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. While that is often the case, state law also prohibits driving under the influence of any controlled substance. These offenses could involve a driver exclusively under the influence of an illegal drug or on a combination of drugs or alcohol. A recent study shows a surprising number of DWI arrests in Houston involve the use of the drug PCP.
Commonly referred to as “angel dust,” PCP is a street drug that has grown in popularity in Houston recently. According to the Houston Forensic Science Center, approximately 16 percent of all DWI arrests in Houston involved the use of PCP.
The study reviewed all arrests in the city from 2013 through 2018 and flagged any arrest that included a positive drug test for PCP. This includes cases where PCP was either the only drug in the driver's system or one of several drugs. The study went on to show that 33 percent of all drivers with PCP in their system had at least one more controlled substance in their blood stream at the time of their arrest.
What is PCP?
PCP is the abbreviation for the hallucinogenic drug phencyclidine. A dissociate drug, this substance can cause the user to see distorted lights, sounds, and colors. It can alter a person's view of themselves or the environment around them.
PCP comes in various forms. It can be found in tablets, powders, or capsules. The most common way to ingest the drug is by smoking it. However, it is also common to use PCP by snorting or ingesting it.
In recent years, the most popular use of PCP has been in liquid form. It is commonly used to dip cigarettes or joints in. These drugs can last up to 6 hours and affect each person to differing degrees.
The Effect of PCP on a Driver
The increased use of PCP can have a unique impact in DWI cases. This drug and its hallucinogenic effects can dramatically increase the chances of a collision. The police have also expressed concern about arrests involving a person on PCP. According to Houston PD Sergeant Donald Egdorf, a person on PCP can
have very cyclical behavior; one moment they might be very cooperative and the next moment they want to fight everybody.
While driving under the influence of PCP is a serious charge, law enforcement and prosecutors are not always equipped to provide these cases. Most officers are trained extensively in identifying signs of alcohol intoxication but far fewer can competently testify to the signs of PCP use.
The same can be said for many prosecutors. While a prosecuting attorney may have plenty of experience showing a jury that a certain blood alcohol concentration correlates to a high level of intoxication, they might not have the same experience in a PCP case.
These deficiencies can make it difficult for the state to prove their case. With the help of a Board Certified expert in DWI defense, you can beat the DWI charges.