NH Marijuana DWI Laws
A driver can be charged with DWI for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Even a drug like marijuana can lead to serious charges. According to New Hampshire Law RSA 265-A:2 Driving or Operating Under Influence of Drugs or Liquor:
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, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or any other chemical substances, natural or synthetic, which impair a person's ability to drive.
Marijuana is considered a controlled substance. Even though marijuana is legal in some states, this does not mean that it is harmless. New Hampshire lawmakers believe that any type of drug can alter a person's perception and reaction abilities and therefore have a negative effect on their ability to operate a vehicle. For this reason, any driver who is accused of operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana will be arrested for DWI.
Marijuana DWI Penalties in New Hampshire
A marijuana DWI conviction will result in the same penalties as other types of DWI conviction, including alcohol. The penalties for an offense increase for every prior DWI conviction that a person has on their record even if it is for an alcohol or other drug-related charge. The penalties for marijuana DWI include the following:
- For a First Offense:
- Class B misdemeanor charges
- A fine of at least $500
- 9 months to 2 years of license suspension
- Enrollment in the impaired driver intervention program
- For a Second Offense:
- A fine of at least $750
- 60 days to jail time – 30 of which may be suspended
- A minimum of 3 years of license suspension
- For a Third Offense:
- 180 days of jail time – 150 of those days may be suspended
- A fine of at least $750
- 3 years of license suspension or more
New Hampshire Marijuana DWI Defenses
The good news about marijuana related DWI charges is that there are many defense options. Drug testing and drug-related DWI law is a relatively new trend in criminal justice and drug specific polices have not been established yet. Juries must convict if they believe the suspect was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. All a DWI lawyer needs to establish is some reasonable doubt as to whether their client was actually impaired.
First of all, marijuana and drug testing is not as accurate as alcohol testing. This means that it is hard to determine exactly when the drugs were consumed. THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, stays in a person's body for days or even weeks after use. This means that a person who consumes marijuana days earlier may still test positive for THC even though the effects of the drug had long since worn off. While this may seem like an attribute that can lead to false marijuana DWI arrests, it can also be used to defend suspects. If an attorney can explain to a jury that there is no way to know when the drug was consumed, they will be less likely to make a conviction because there is a reasonable doubt that the suspect was actually impaired at the time of their arrest.
Marijuana testing may also be unable to determine the quantities of marijuana that were consumed. Many drug tests only read positive or negative for the presence of THC in a suspect's system. If it is a very small amount, a lawyer may argue in court that it was not enough to impair the defendant's driving. There are many studies with conflicting results about how marijuana actually affects a person's ability to drive. Drug tests are not as accurate as alcohol testing and that leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Call a NH Marijuana DWI Attorney
If you or a loved one have been arrested for marijuana related DWI, don't panic. Instead, call our office right away to find out more about your defense options. A marijuana DWI is actually very defensible but only if you have an experienced attorney on your side. Criminal defense lawyer Ryan Russman understands criminal defense DWI charges in New Hampshire and knows how to fight them. He is one of New Hampshire's leading authorities on DWI law and has been featured on the radio and in several publications. Call now for a free consultation.