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Drugged driving laws getting tougher

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New Hampshire Considers Tightening Its Impaired Driving Enforcement

New Hampshire’s DWI laws are applicable when it comes to driving an automobile under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. In the state of New Hampshire, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs is a serious crime. A conviction on this charge will produce the same sanctions and penalties as drunken driving would. Though drugged driving is discussed less frequently thank drunk driving, advocacy groups and lawmakers are striving to bring more attention statewide to this issue. On a federal level, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of National Drug Control Policy believe that, while drunken driving sees reductions each year because of efforts at increasing public awareness, drugged driving continues to present a credible threat to public safety, and this issue should be moved into the national spotlight.

Drugged Driving: A Growing Epidemic

A report entitled, Drug Testing of Drug Involved Driving of Fatally Injured Drivers In the United States, was recently published by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. This report states that, in 2009 alone, nearly 22,000 motorists in the United States were killed in automobile accidents. Of all of these motorists, a little over 60% were tested for the presence of drugs. 33% of the total number of drivers tested had a positive result for the presence of drugs in their system. This percentage accounts for 18% of all motorists who were fatally injured in automobile accidents. At the same time, this number only represents motorists who were killed in vehicular accidents and does not represent the amount of guiltless victims. There is a strong push for more research to be conducted in this field, so an accurate representation of the problem can be obtained.

One of the primary setbacks that researchers have run into while looking into this problem arises from the fact that not all motorists were tested for the presence of drugs. It is a known fact that between 2005 and 2009, the number of motorists involved in deadly accidents who were tested for the presence of drugs did increase by approximately 5%. However, as aforementioned, in 2009, the percentage of tested drivers was less than 65%. New Hampshire is one of the few states across the country that requires all motorists involved in deadly accidents to be tested for drugs. Yet, not all states have enacted this policy. Moreover, not all motorists involved in deadly accidents are tested for a variety of reasons.

Unfortunately, drunken driving and drug impaired driving tend to go hand in hand with one another. Multiple different studies have shown that approximately 48% of motorists involved in a fatal accident who tested positive for the presence of drugs also tested positive for the presence of alcohol. This fact also means that the total percentage of drugged driving fatalities could potentially be overstated.

How Does New Hampshire Measure Up?

According to data released by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 2009, approximately 70 motorists in the state of New Hampshire were killed in a vehicular accident. Of this total number, 76% of the deceased motorists were tested for the presence of drugs. Although New Hampshire’s laws dictate that all motorists involved in a fatal accident should be tested for the presence of drugs, specific factors could have prevented tested. For example, the motorist may have decidedly been the victim in the accident or samples may not have been available at the time of testing.

Of the total number of motorists who were tested in our state, only 13 of these deceased individuals (or roughly 25%) tested positive for the presence of drugs. It was during this same year that the national average for tested motorists was 63% with 33% testing positive for drugs. Of the 13 New Hampshire drivers who did test positive, 2 individuals tested positive for the presence of a narcotic, 4 people tested positive for the presence of an anti-depressant, and the other 7 tested positive for the presence of cannabinoids, such as marijuana.

The Battle to Reduce Drugged Driving

In order to reduce the number of drugged driving fatalities that occur each year, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is seeking to reduce the total number of drugged driving instances that occur in the United States each year by approximately 10% by the time 2015 rolls around. On their website, they state that their strategy for accomplishing this goal includes employing the following measures:

§  Encouraging other states to institute Per Se drug laws

§  Collecting more data regarding drugged driving

§  Increasing education of professionals and communities regarding the effects of drugged driving

§  Increasing the amount of training provided to law enforcement officials regarding drugged driving

§  Developing standardized testing methods for detecting the presence of drugs in motorists

Advocacy groups are also seeking to assist police officers in increasing the number of drugged driving arrests that are made each year. For most states, this translates to an increase in strengthening their DWI laws and including the addition of per se statutes. Currently, New Hampshire does not have per se laws regarding drug impairment; although such statues were recently added for drunken DWIs.

While New Hampshire police officers are being actively encouraged to make more DWI arrests for both drugs and alcohol, officers do occasionally become overzealous in their efforts, which can lead to frivolous accusations and unwarranted arrests. Should you unfortunately find yourself in this position, your first step should be to contact one of our skilled and experienced New Hampshire DWI attorneys immediately.

At our law firm, our DWI attorneys can assist you in combatting the DWI charges laid against you – regardless of the circumstances surrounding your case. Your initial consultation is free, and it is our pledge to you to work diligently on your behalf to secure the best possible outcome for your case. Please contact us today.



Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee a future outcome. Results include cases in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Attorney Dan Hynes is admitted to practice law only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This website may be considered advertising. Contacting us does not create an attorney/client relationship. We work with other lawyers throughout Massachusetts.

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N.H. DWI Lawyers Address: Dan Hynes 206 Fair St. Laconia NH 03246 Phone: 603-384-3264