New Hampshire lawmakers established a medical cannabis program in 2013 and decriminalized cannabis possession in 2017. However, despite the progressive cannabis laws of the granite state, a cannabis DUI arrest or charge is a serious offense with severe consequences. If you are driving with cannabis in your car or bloodstream, you must be prepared and know your rights under the law.
If Police Suspect Cannabis DUI in New Hampshire
Police need probable cause to pull a driver over for driving under the influence of cannabis, alcohol, or other substances in New Hampshire. Reasons for probable causes could include involvement in an accident, swerving, driving very slowly, or disobeying traffic signs.
Implied consent is the concept under New Hampshire law that by performing the act of driving, a driver automatically consents to a DUI inspection, including alcohol and drug testing. Refusal of a DUI inspection can be used against you in court if you are charged with a cannabis DUI.
What Happens in an NH Cannabis DUI Arrest?
If New Hampshire police suspect you are driving while impaired, they may call a specially trained officer called a drug recognition expert (DRE) to the scene. A DRE will interview the arresting officer and conduct a series of tests to detect a driver’s impairment, including:
- Breath test
- Psychophysical tests such as standing on one leg
- Vital signs
- Pupil size
The DRE uses the information collected to formulate an opinion on a category or categories of drugs that are causing a driver’s impairment. The DRE’s recommendation to the court is confirmed by blood test results.
Cannabis DUI Penalties in New Hampshire
A cannabis DUI conviction has serious consequences in New Hampshire, including criminal charges, fines, driver’s license suspensions, and jail time. Information courtesy of the National Association for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
In addition to the penalties under the law, expenses from a cannabis DUI can cost thousands to cover legal defense, car impound fees, and car insurance increases.
Can You Get a Cannabis DUI With a Medical Card in New Hampshire?
The New Hampshire legislature passed legislation in 2013 to implement a medical cannabis program called the Therapeutic Cannabis Program (TCP). The TCP established exemptions from criminal penalties for registered patients using cannabis therapeutically for qualifying medical conditions.
Cardholding medical cannabis patients in New Hampshire should know they can still be arrested and charged with a cannabis DUI. Even if your registration is valid and your doctor approves your cannabis consumption for a medical condition, cannabis impairs driving. New Hampshire law does not distinguish between recreational or medical cannabis consumption regarding DUI.
Furthermore, unlike blood alcohol which correlates with present impairment level, there is no way for cannabis drug tests to determine whether you consumed cannabis immediately before driving or from days or weeks ago. Medical cannabis patients should be aware that THC can remain detectable in the blood and urine long after consumption, for days or even weeks.
Driving With Cannabis in the Car in New Hampshire
If you have cannabis in your car and are pulled over, it’s best to know your rights and be prepared. New Hampshire decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis in 2017. Three-fourths of an ounce or less of cannabis flower is now a civil violation rather than a criminal misdemeanor. However, possession of larger amounts of cannabis is still a criminal offense and is punishable with jail time and fines.
Read our guide to learn more about cannabis laws in New Hampshire.
How To Protect Against a Cannabis DUI Charge in New Hampshire
A cannabis DUI arrest or cannabis DUI charge in New Hampshire is expensive, and the laws are constantly changing. Cannabis DUI charges disproportionately impact people without the financial resources to defend themselves and access legal defense. That is why it is crucial to consume responsibly, know the facts, and have a proactive legal plan.
Cannabis consumers must understand their rights as drivers. You deserve quality representation in the event of facing cannabis DUI charges. At reepher, we help cover these and related costs.