When it comes to DWI, many people automatically think “alcohol.” However drugs, over the counter, prescribed and illegal, can also impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Of course, alcohol combined with any form of drug almost always enhances the impact of both on an individual. Any level of impairment in New Hampshire can lead to both an arrest for and conviction of DWI. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that in 2014, approximately 22 percent of drivers involved in fatal auto accidents were impaired by drugs. In over half those cases, prescription drug usage was involved. In other words, those individuals had ingested drugs which were legal for them to use.
Drugs of many varieties can cause drowsiness, dizziness, impaired motor skills, diminished reflexes, sensitivity to light, and impaired judgment—all of which can make driving a perilous venture. In addition, not all drugs affect people in the same way.
Measuring a person’s blood-alcohol concentration can be done easily and with a high degree of accuracy at the time of a traffic stop, or shortly thereafter. Measuring drug impairment is more difficult. That is because some drugs can be detected in an individual’s bloodstream or urine for weeks after use, making it difficult to determine actual impairment at a given time.
Drivers need to keep in mind that being under a doctor’s orders to use prescription drugs or having state permission to utilize medical marijuana does not also provide authorization to drive when using those drugs. Such a person can be charged with DWI if caught driving while impaired.
If you or someone you know has been charged with DWI due to drug use of any kind contact a NH DWI attorney who is familiar with the scientific and legal implications of such a charge and can work to protect your rights.