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Future DWI laws in NH -

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Future DWI laws in NH

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5 Predictions For the Future of New Hampshire DWI Cases


There is no doubt that, within the state of New Hampshire, DWIs are a big time business, and they garner big votes. Wherever voting and money is involved, you’ll discover laws that are implemented to place them in the deep pockets of those who will most likely benefit from it. The issue of DWIs is a political one that lawmakers can safely throw their weight behind, particularly when forces like the NHTSA and MADD come into play. Here are 5 predictions we have for the future of DWIs in New Hampshire:


1.      DWI laws are going to change.


When the Breathalyzer test was first developed, the American Medical Association pitched in to help out and calculated .15% as the standard BAC level in which impairment can be presumed. This level was first lowered to .10% and then to .08%, ensuring the alcohol level alone became the offense, rather than the issue of actual impairment. Fast forward several decades to 2014, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently introduced the notion that all states should lower their BAC levels of presumed impairment to .05%. “Zero tolerance” has even been created for underage motorists with the establishment of .01% and .02% laws.


What we have observed is a shift from focusing on a motorist’s actual level of impairment to simplifying the process of arrests and convictions via the establishment of artificial BAC levels and the “mere presence” of alcohol. The stress is placed on convictions, not actual levels of impairment.


Could future adult DWI cases include zero tolerance laws? Could aiding and abetting drunk driving or “attempted” drunk driving become actual crimes?


2.      DWIs will become a Federal issue.


The prosecution of DWIs has, up until now, been left to individual states. However, with groups like the NHTSA and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), increasing the amount of political pressure placed upon lawmakers, changes on the horizon can be observed. Increasing the likelihood that .05% could become the new “standard” for impairment, the Federal government has already, in the past, placed considerable pressure on states to change their laws by threatening to withhold Federal funding for highway construction and improvement, as well as law enforcement grants.


What have the states done in response?


§  Crafted laws establishing .08% as the presumed impairment level


§  Established zero tolerance policies for motorists under 21 years of age


§  Created automatic driver’s license suspensions


§  Standardization of field sobriety tests


§  Created Federally approved lists of different Breathalyzer machines




3.      Current diversion programs will be greatly expanded upon.


Brought about by the financial pressures associated with prosecutors losing DWI cases in court and paying the overtime salaries of police officers who make DWI arrests, a handful of counties within New Hampshire have begun to experiment with diversion programs for first time DWI offenders. With the majority of these pilot programs, the successful completion of the diversion program will result in a reduction of the charges or a complete dismissal of the charges altogether. MADD has been a driving force in the testing of these programs in Florida, New York, and California (among other states) in the form of hefty “charitable contributions”.


4.      The modern Prohibition has arrived.


As aforementioned, BAC levels for DWIs have lowered from .15% to .08% nationwide, and there are ongoing efforts to lower the national standard to .05%. Recently, Mothers Against Drunk Driving formally changed their organization’s mission statement to include “the issue of underage drinking”. Their slogan changed from “Don’t Drive Drunk” to the new “Don’t Drink and Drive”. The organization is now focusing on the “problem” of consuming alcohol in any quantity.


Furthermore, MADD has launched an initiative to make it mandatory to have ignition interlock devices (IIDs) installed on each automobile for each motorist convicted of a DWI, including first time offenders and certain cases in which alcohol was not a factor at all (DWI – Drugs). Logically, this does not make much sense. At current count, MADD has accomplished many of their goals in nearly 20 states. Could New Hampshire be next? An increasing number of NH lawmakers have begun to show their support for the mandatory installation of IIDs.


5.      There will be new methods of collecting evidence in DWI cases.


In times gone by, a police officer formed their opinion on a motorist’s level of impairment based upon the driving patterns of their automobile, actual physical signs of intoxication or impairment, and sobriety exercises. From there, we moved on to blood tests and Breathalyzer tests. Now, handheld and portable breath testing devices are being used at the scene of traffic stops to determine if enough probable cause for an arrest exists. Once a suspect has arrived at the police station, they are given another test by a more reliable Breathalyzer device, which is what is then used as evidence in a court of law.


Enter saving money and new technology. Expensive Breathalyzer machines will soon be replaced altogether with cheaper, simpler handheld units at an arrest scene. Who knows? Blood samples could soon be obtained by actual warrants signed by judges stationed at DWI roadblocks.


Bear in mind that these predictions are made tongue in cheek; however, there is some grain of truth to all jest. New Hampshire’s DWI laws are intricate and complex, and if you are convicted of a DWI offense in our state, then you face some pretty stiff penalties. With the new initiatives and drives that are being introduced by MADD and the NHTSA, these penalties could become even stricter.


If you have been arrested on the suspicion of driving while intoxicated, your first step should be to hire a skilled and experienced New Hampshire DWI attorney. To speak with one of our professional DWI lawyers regarding your case, contact us today. Your initial consultation is 100% free, and we can be reached via telephone, email, or through our website.




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