On January 1, New Hampshire's latest DUI law went into effect, making driving while impaired by prescription drugs illegal in the state. It was passed and signed into law by former Governor John Lynch in June 2012.
Previously, prescription drugs did not fall under the state's jurisdiction when it came to driving under the influence. Many other states' statutes have language broad enough to include these legal substances, but New Hampshire DWI laws did not. As a result, many lawmakers and members of law enforcement in the Granite State felt an expansion of the law was necessary.
According to State Police Sergeant Matthew Shapiro, who spoke with NHPR, the local NPR affiliate, about the law, officers have received special training to recognize when an individual has been affected by prescription drugs.
"The cases that we're dealing with are people who are clearly impaired, they're under the influence, they have diminished mental capacity and physical capacity as a result of taking drugs that are impairing them," Shapiro told the source.
However, many lawyers believe that given the plurality of effects that prescription drugs can have on individuals, there will be numerous false arrests in 2013.
No clear determination of what constitutes "under the influence" in these cases has been outlined. Shapiro said that blood tests might be used, but that could open the door to a variety of other considerations, like the patient's dosage and length of use.
It's important that all residents of the Granite State taking prescription medications familiarize themselves with this law. Avoid driving if you feel tired or sick from your medication. And, if you are accused of impaired driving, consult an experienced New Hampshire DWI attorney. These professionals can guide you through the legal process and ensure you receive fair consideration.