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Rindge

DWI topic of workshop

Assistant Attorney General talks about new law

  • Holly Koski of Rindge, left, walks heel to toe in a straight line as instructed by Rindge Officer Rachel Derosier during a mock field sobriety test at Rindge’s Crime Watch meeting at the Rindge Recreation Department on Tuesday evening.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Holly Koski of Rindge, left, walks heel to toe in a straight line as instructed by Rindge Officer Rachel Derosier during a mock field sobriety test at Rindge’s Crime Watch meeting at the Rindge Recreation Department on Tuesday evening.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Dave DuVernay of Rindge, left, listens as Rindge Officer Tom Horne discusses the components of a typical field sobriety test.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Dave DuVernay of Rindge, left, listens as Rindge Officer Tom Horne discusses the components of a typical field sobriety test.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Rindge Crime Watch and the Police Department hold an educational session on DWI laws in New Hampshire.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Rindge Crime Watch and the Police Department hold an educational session on DWI laws in New Hampshire.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Holly Koski of Rindge, left, walks heel to toe in a straight line as instructed by Rindge Officer Rachel Derosier during a mock field sobriety test at Rindge’s Crime Watch meeting at the Rindge Recreation Department on Tuesday evening.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Dave DuVernay of Rindge, left, listens as Rindge Officer Tom Horne discusses the components of a typical field sobriety test.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Rindge Crime Watch and the Police Department hold an educational session on DWI laws in New Hampshire.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

RINDGE — As a part of a multi-part educational series cosponsored by the Rindge Police Department and Rindge Crime Watch, the Crime Watch meeting Tuesday night focused on DWI laws and impaired driving prevention.

While people driving drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs on New Hampshire’s roads remain primary concerns, Assistant N.H. Attorney General Diana Fenton told residents Tuesday that a slew of new substances and technological distractions are jeopardizing public safety.

“We’ve seen a dramatic shift in the number of people driving under the influence of anything and everything,” said Fenton, referring to both natural and synthetic substances in use by today’s drivers. Fenton spoke of the use of bath salts, K2 — also known as synthetic marijuana — and people huffing aerosols as well as colognes, as current societal and law enforcement concerns.

Since Jan. 1, New Hampshire’s DWI laws have changed significantly to include these substances, while at the same time a new generation of drivers are taking to the road, according to Fenton. But Fenton said the state is in a “period of growing pains” because the adoption of RSA 265-A is so new.

“It’s just a matter of time before these cases percolate to the Superior Court,” she said, referring to negligent homicide and DWI cases in which abuse of lesser-known substances may be to blame.

In addition to the criminal charges that can be brought against the driver of a fatal car crash, Fenton also touched upon distracted driving cases in which substance abuse isn’t a cause. “When does a person’s actions behind the wheel cross the line from civil liability to criminal liability?” Fenton asked. What about situations in which there isn’t enough evidence to say why the driver crossed the centerline and killed someone head on?

The question prompted attendees’ memory of a recent Rindge case in which the 8th Circuit Court dismissed vehicular assault charges against Cheryl Teece-Jankowski, 51, of New Ipswich. Police said at the time of the crash in early 2012 that Teece-Jankowski’s car had crossed the centerline on Route 202 and hit a second vehicle head-on, killing the driver, Jose Freitas Jr., 18, of Winchendon, Mass. Police did not have enough evidence to support charges of speed, DWI, negligent or distracted driving, according to Police Chief Frank Morrill.

“Just because the result is tragic, doesn’t make it criminal,” Fenton said, adding that it’s a reality that can prove extremely difficult for the victim’s family.

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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