Question: What does 'intoxicated' mean?
Benson Varghese: In Texas, there are three ways for a person to be intoxicated when we’re talking about intoxication-related offenses. First, a person can be proven to be intoxicated if their blood alcohol concentration is a .08 or greater at the time that they were driving. It’s important that it says “at the time that they were driving,” because the state does have a burden to prove; whatever the test result was, they need to know at the time of driving that it was a .08 or greater.
There is a process—a scientific method that they can use to determine what your blood alcohol concentration was at the time of driving. That’s called “retrograde extrapolation,” but it is dependent on a number of answers that the driver would have to provide, and those answers would have to be accurate. Commonly, when a person’s asked if they’ve had anything to drink and how much, they say "a couple" and "maybe an hour ago." Those answers will later become very important when an expert from the state is trying to determine what that person’s blood alcohol concentration is or was. As you might imagine, there is a lot of debate over how accurate that can be, given that the person who's answering those questions doesn't know how important that is.
The other two ways that the state can prove a person was intoxicated is by showing that they were not normal, mentally or physically, due to the introduction of alcohol to the body; and it can be alcohol plus any number of other things, including prescription medication, drugs or any prohibited substance. It doesn’t even need to be alcohol; it can be any one of those things acting on their own.