Imagine being busted for drunk driving because you had a hangover. It can happen. It’s already the law in New Jersey. Recently, a Jersey state appeals court ruled that a person can be considered legally impaired because of a hangover whether it’s from drinking alcohol, taking cocaine or other substances.
In the decision, the court upheld a conviction for a driver, who had taken cocaine prior to driving, but was no longer active in his system. The court still found that the cocaine was the “proximate cause of his impaired behavior.” One of the judges wrote: “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 bottom line is that drivers who are hung over from cocaine (or alcohol or any other substance) may be considered impaired or DUI even when the drug is no longer in their systems.
I’m very concerned about this ruling. As powerful as MADD is, I am certain that the holding will become DUI law in many more states around the U.S. in no time. The problem is that the line will become grey. We’re going to have arrests for people who aren’t high while driving, but may be tired and hung over from previous use. The same analysis will be used to justify arrests from an alcohol hangover.
Soon, you won’t just worry about the dry mouth, upset stomach, vicious headaches and body aches that accompany a hangover. You’ll also need to worry about loosing your liberty.