In a ruling that expands the legal meaning of “under the influence,” a New Jersey appeals court yesterday ruled a hangover is also an impairment — whether it’s from drinking alcohol, taking cocaine or other substances, says the Newark Star-Ledger. The judges, in a 3-0 decision, ruled that a 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 While the cocaine was no longer active it was the “proximate cause of his impaired behavior,” the judges found.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.
“The potential impact is enormous,” said John Tumelty, who represented the driver. “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?”