Sunday, July 1, 2007
From nj.com: The severe symptoms of a hangover -- piercing headaches, body aches, dry mouth and upset stomach -- should no longer be your only concern after a night of drinking in New Jersey. Now there is the law.
In a ruling that expands the legal meaning of "under the influence," a state appeals court Thursday ruled a hangover is also an impairment -- whether it's from drinking alcohol, taking cocaine or other substances.
The judges, in a 3-0 decision, ruled a Cape May County driver, who had taken cocaine but was not intoxicated when police stopped him, was still a danger to other drivers. While the cocaine was no longer active it was the "proximate cause of his impaired behavior," the judges found.
Simply: drivers who are hung over from using cocaine can be considered impaired even if the drug is no longer in their systems.
Appellate Division Judge Thomas Lyons in a nine-page opinion explained: "While the defendant was not 'high,' he was physically impaired. As a result of ingesting cocaine, defendant's condition was such that his normal physical coordination was impaired so as to render him a danger to others on the highway."
The reaction to the decision was swift from experts in the field and lawyers in the case. They said could have an impact on alcohol-related DUI cases. None knew of a similar decision elsewhere in the country.
"The potential impact is enormous," said John Tumelty, who represented the driver, David Franchetta, in the case. "Where do you draw the line? Even though a guy is not high and a drug is not active in the guy's system, if he's tired and sluggish and hung over from previous use, does that makes him under influence? If they say a drug hangover makes you guilty, what about an alcohol hangover?"
Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]