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DWI laws in NH -

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Welcome to my blog. I will try to give updates about important information, cases, and laws related to DWI/DUI throughout New Hampshire and the rest of the Country. Please note DWI laws are constantly changing. Speak with a qualified Attorney to understand how the law may apply to you.

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DWI laws in NH

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New Hampshire DWI Laws – Get the Basic Facts Now

New Hampshire’s DWI laws are complex and frequently evolving; however, there are some basic facts that you should know about our state’s drunk driving laws right now. If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI in our state, then the most important info you should immediately be aware of is that you could lose multiple, important legal advantages in as little as 10 days after the date of your initial arrest. In New Hampshire, a DWI and a DUI are considered the same thing. There are no lesser offenses or intoxicated motorist penalties, like “driving while ability impaired”, like those of Colorado, New York, and other states.

In the state of New Hampshire, there are four different DWI charges that can be brought against a defendant, and each one has its own distinct set of punishment and penalties. These charges are 1) driving while intoxicated (DWI), 2) aggravated DWI, 3) felony aggravated DWI, and 4) subsequent offense DWI, which could be a second, third, or fourth offense. Under New Hampshire’s current laws, a fourth offense DWI is automatically classified as a felony charge. A DWI wherein the motorist causes an accident that result in serious bodily injury or death is also classified as a felony – even if the perpetrator is the only party who was injured in the collision.

In our state, almost all prosecutions for DWI follow two parallel tracks: 1) a legal case in a superior or district court wherein the motorist is formally charged with a crime and 2) an administrative license suspension hearing (ALS) for refusing to submit to a chemical alcohol test or for offering one that is higher than the legal limit. When you engage the services of a New Hampshire DWI attorney, he or she will handle both proceedings.

Under New Hampshire’s laws, all DWI related charges are classified legally as crimes, rather than as traffic offenses. A first offense DWI charge is classified as a Class B misdemeanor. Typically, this category of crime does not carry an accompanying jail sentence, but it is a possibility. All other DWIs charges, felonies, subsequent, and aggravated, are accompanied by mandatory jail sentences and significantly longer periods of license revocation.

§  For persons who are 21 years of age or older, the legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level is .08%. For motorists under the age of 21, the legal BAC limit is .02%. For those who take a Breathalyzer test that is right at the legal limit of .02% or .08%, it may be possible to avoid having their driver’s license suspended unless they are convicted of a DWI.

 

§  New Hampshire’s DWI laws state that if a person holds a commercial driver’s license (CDL), but have not been charged with operating a commercial vehicle, the legal limit is identical to the legal limit that would be applied to a standard DWI.

 

§  Motorists who are charged with operating a commercial vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol face considerably harsher criminal penalties and are subjected to a .04% BAC limit. Even at lower BAC levels, a commercial driver could face other sanctions and penalties, because it is considered unlawful to operate a commercial vehicle with any detectable amount of alcohol in one’s system.

 

If you have a driver’s license that was issued in another state besides New Hampshire, then you should be aware that your license can be suspended in your home state, as well as in New Hampshire.

Once you have been charged under NH DWI laws, the first court appearance you are required to attend is referred to as an arraignment. An arraignment date can be located on your bail receipt, complaint, or your court summons. If you plan on engaging the services of a New Hampshire DWI lawyer to assist you, arrangements should be made well in advance of your arraignment. A number of legal advantages and rights can be lost if you choose to wait. During the arraignment, the criminal complaints against you will be read, and you will be requested to enter a plea. Even if your BAC levels were above the legal limit, you have the absolute right to enter a plea of not guilty.

Choosing to plead not guilty simply means that, at trial, the prosecution is required to prove that you are guilty. Because you have entered a plea of not guilty, a trial date will be scheduled. During the trial, the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each element of the criminal offense with which you have been charged. If they are unable to do so, then you will be deemed not guilty, and you will not face any of the penalties associated with a DWI conviction.

If you would prefer to contest the charges leveled against you, then, under New Hampshire state law, you should not plead nolo contendere or guilty.

Individuals who are charged with a first offense DWI have the legal right to have a trial held before a judge, but they are not entitled to a jury trial. For second offense DWIs, aggravated DWIs, or other subsequent offenses, you possess the legal right to have a trial by jury, but you may be required to submit to a trial conducted before a District Court judge first, and if convicted, then file an appeal before the Superior Court.

For a first offense DWI conviction, the mandatory penalties include:

§  A minimum monetary fine of $500.00 with a maximum of $1,200.00, in addition to a 24% penalty assessment

§  A mandatory license suspension period of 9 months, which under certain circumstances, can be reduced to as little as 90 days, and a maximum suspension period of two years

Motorists who are under the age of 21 years at the time of their DWI arrest and conviction face much stiffer penalties under New Hampshire state law. For second offense DWI and aggravated DWI convictions, a defendant faces a mandatory jail sentence and a significantly longer period of mandatory license suspension.

For any DWI related conviction, you will be required to successfully complete state approved alcohol or drug education program prior to having your driver’s license reinstated. The program must be a minimum of twenty hours in length. If you’re convicted of a second offense DWI or subsequent offense conviction will mandate that you complete a 7 day residential treatment program. Multiple offenders must complete a 28 day treatment program as a condition of their punishment.

In addition to the mandated completion of treatment programs, there are a number of other collateral consequences a person must contend with if convicted of a DWI. This list of collateral consequences includes:

§  Special SR-22 insurance requirements

§  Higher insurance rates

§  Probationary driver’s licenses

§  Barred entry into Canada

§  An inability to rent cars

§  Increased penalties for future motor vehicle violations

Apart and separate from a court case, if you refused to perform physical tests after being arrested or refused to undergo a chemical test when a police officer requested it, then you shall receive a suspension notice from the NH Department of Safety – Motor Vehicle Division. This period of revocation shall be no less than 180 days and can last as long as two years. If you do refuse to submit to a requested chemical test, then New Hampshire’s ALS law will make the suspension of your driver’s license consecutive with any other revocations.

You do have a legal right to request a hearing on the revocation order. At such a hearing, the arresting police officer and the person who administered the chemical test must show up to submit to cross examination by your DWI attorney. However, such a hearing must be requested in writing within 30 days of your license suspension. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Despite what you might think, many individuals are found to be not guilty of DWIs in the state of New Hampshire. A greater number of people benefit from plea bargaining, which can result in lesser charges and penalties. Even if your particular DWI case is a difficult one, it will be to your great benefit to employ the services of an experienced and skilled DWI lawyer. For a free consultation about your case, please contact our law firm today.

 

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Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee a future outcome. Results include cases in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Attorney Dan Hynes is admitted to practice law only in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. This website may be considered advertising. Contacting us does not create an attorney/client relationship and the information on this site is not legal advice and may be inaccurate or not applicable to your case. Each case is different.

Mailing Address: Dan Hynes PO BOX 598 Merrimack, NH 03054