NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 1, 2013

DUI laws get stricter in NH

Tougher mandates in place for prescription, OTC drugs

Motorists in New Hampshire have more reasons to think twice about driving under the influence of any type of intoxicating substance.

Those convicted of DUI in the Granite State risk losing their license to drive permanently unless they comply with strict treatment mandates under a newly revised state law that went into effect Jan. 1.

According to Exeter, N.H., defense attorney Ryan Russman, the recent revamping of state law RSA Chapter 265-A left the penalty phase of DUI convictions pretty much the same.

But he said the extensive treatment requirements as well as the expanded definition of impairing substances, which now go far beyond alcohol and controlled drugs, represent a “major overhaul.”

Russman said not only could convicted defendants who don’t complete mandated treatment provisions never get their driver’s license reinstated, they could be required to serve jail time for being in contempt of court.

The treatment regulations apply to everyone, from first-time to repeat offenders.

As for the inclusion of prescription drugs in the expanded list of potentially intoxicating substances, both Russman and Haverhill defense attorney Gerard LaFlamme believe it casts too far a net and they foresee legal problems with the new definition.

“I’m not worried about the treatment portion of this because, ultimately, I think common sense will prevail and problems will be worked out,” LaFlamme said. “I’m more concerned that driving under the influence now includes prescription drugs. That concerns me the most because (state law enforcement authorities) are going to have a tremendous proof problem. They don’t have enough experts to testify in these cases now.”

Impairing substances

Previously, New Hampshire’s DUI statute listed only alcohol and “controlled drugs” in its definition of substances for which charges could be brought, according to N.H. State Police Sgt. Matthew Shapiro, who was involved in crafting the revision.

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