How You Can Get Charged With DWI Without Drinking Anything by NH DWI Lawyer Mark Stevens

When you hear or read about a case in the news that involves a driver charged with DWI or aggravated DWI, you might assume that it is a “drunk driving” case. More DWI charges are being brought by police in New Hampshire than ever before though in cases where the drivers didn’t drink any alcohol at all. These are cases in which the driver is alleged to be under the influence of a controlled drug.

New Hampshire’s DWI law, RSA 265-A:2, and the aggravated DWI law, RSA 265-A:3, prohibit driving under the influence of either alcohol, or driving under the influence of a controlled drug, or a driving under the influence of a combination of alcohol and a controlled drug. This law does not apply only to driving under the influence of illegal drugs; it also applies to driving under the influence of legal prescription drugs. The relevant section of the New Hampshire DWI law reads:

“I. No person shall drive or attempt to drive a vehicle upon any way or operate or attempt to operate an OHRV:
(a) While such person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs … “

There is a heightened scrutiny of drivers today by police on the lookout for drivers under the influence of drugs. The federal government has placed great emphasis on “drugged driving” cases and has devoted a lot of money to prosecuting people for this. Federal grant money is flowing to state and local law enforcement agencies for “DWI-drug detection” or “DWI-drugs saturation patrols”.

If a police officer makes any observations that might indicate any possibility of impairment, he may question the driver about whether the driver has taken any medications. This sounds innocent, as most people take medications exactly as prescribed by their doctors and drive quite well. Most law-abiding citizens may be inclined to say, “Yes officer I take medication X”. The driver’s answer to these types of questions though can come back to bite her in court, often in the form of a “DWI-Drug” charge.

Did you know that you can be charged with, and possibly even convicted of, DWI without drinking a drop of alcohol, based solely on your statement that you took prescribed medications? You can. This makes your answer to this simple question that can precipitate a DUI arrest a critical one.

The only way that the police know what medications you might have taken, in most cases, is if you tell them. The other way they can find out about your prescription medications is if you consent to a blood test after a DWI arrest, another decision you should carefully weigh before submitting to it. If the officer asks you questions about drugs, it is probably because he or she suspects that you are impaired by something, yet the officer can’t smell alcohol. If you answer affirmatively, you will likely be asked to step out of your car for field sobriety testing, and you will probably be arrested for DWI-drugs shortly after the series of sidewalk gymnastics the police call “field sobriety tests”.

You should plan how you will respond to this type of question long before you are stopped. Contact a DWI defense lawyer to plan your response before you have to make a decision under the pressure of a roadside interrogation by the police.

Have a safe night.


New Hampshire DWI laws. Call Salem, New Hampshire criminal defense Attorney Mark Stevens today at 1-603-893-0074 for a free consultation for your New Hampshire DWI or "aggravated DWI" charges.

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1 comment:

  1. can cops tell if you have a prescription when they stop your car, like when they run your license plate?