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Inhalant-induced DWIs: Are they different from regular DWIs?

On Behalf of | Jan 9, 2024 | Drunk Driving Defense

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) due to any substance that can impair your ability to operate a vehicle safely is illegal in New Hampshire. While this usually means alcohol and drugs, state law also prohibits the use of intoxicating inhalants.

New Hampshire’s laws deter impaired driving from all substances, not just alcohol and drugs. Here’s what you should understand about how the state deals with inhalant-induced DWIs.

What are inhalants?

Compared to controlled substances – which are typically illegal substances and drugs – inhalants are usually household items such as aerosols, gases and solvents that can produce chemical vapors. Stuff like glue, whipped cream sprays, paint thinner and lighter fluid have particularly powerful vapors that can impair cognitive and motor functions when inhaled.

Inhalants can cause dizziness, confusion, and slowed reaction times, which are dangerous for drivers.

The law on inhalants

Per state law, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any controlled drug or substance that impairs a person’s abilities. The law doesn’t differentiate between alcohol, illicit drugs, prescription medications, or inhalants. Officers will cite drivers for any hint of impairment.

Unlike alcohol, where a driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% is legally impaired, there is no “legal limit” for inhalants. The presence of impairment is enough for a DWI charge.

The penalties for inhalant-induced DWI

The punishment for an inhalant-induced DWI are similar to those for alcohol-related offenses and can include:

  • At least $500 in fines for a first offense
  • Revocation of driver’s license for up to two years
  • Participation in an impaired driver care management and driver education program
  • Jail time, depending on the severity of the offense or if the driver is a repeat offender

Although a driver convicted of inhalant-induced DWI won’t likely face a requirement to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle, a court can still order them to participate in substance abuse treatment.

Driving after using inhalants is a serious offense in New Hampshire. If you’re facing a DWI charge related to inhalant use, it’s critical to seek legal counsel to navigate the complexities of your case. Remember, impairment from any substance while driving threatens public safety and is treated as such under state law.

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