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DUI Laws New Hampshire

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DUI Laws New Hampshire

2013 New Hampshire DWI Laws

Overview

In New Hampshire, there are a few types of charges related to Driving while intoxicated (DWI). Driving under the influence (DUI), and Driving while intoxicated (DWI), are all synonyms, and are used interchangeably in the statute[1]. Throughout this book, I refer to all types of drunk driving and drugged driving as DWI.

All DWIs are criminal offenses; either misdemeanors, or felonies. If you are found guilty, you will have a criminal record.

 

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (ability impaired)

The most common DWI charge is driving while under the influence of alcohol. The statute makes it unlawful to: drive or attempt to drive a vehicle upon any way while under the influence of alcohol[2].

To be convicted of this offense, the state must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1: Driving/Operation,

2: Public way,

3: Under the influence of alcohol (ability impaired to any degree due to alcohol[3]).

A Public Way is usually a road. It can be any other place that the public might have access to drive on. It usually is not something private, such as your driveway or front lawn.

 

Driving while having a Blood Alcohol Content above the Legal Limit (Per Se Offense)

The second most common type of DWI is driving while having an alcohol concentration above the legal limit. This limit is .08, or .02 for drivers under 21. To obtain a conviction, the State must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1: Driving/Operation

2: Public way

3: An alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or in the case of a person under the age of 21, 0.02 or more.

 

Driving while Ability Impaired due to a Drug (DWI Drugs)

Effective January 1, 2013, to obtain a conviction for DWI Drugs, the State must prove three things beyond a reasonable doubt:

1: Driving/Operation

2: Public way

3: Under the influence of any controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or any other chemical substances, natural or synthetic, which impair a person's ability to drive.

Even if you were legally prescribed the medication/drug, it is still against the law to drive if the medication impaired your ability to drive. It is not a defense that you were prescribed the medication.

Prior to January 1, 2013, the State must prove under the influence of a Controlled Drug. Many drugs are not controlled drugs, especially prescription drugs. If you were charged with DWI drugs prior to 2013, it is important to know these differences.

There is no equivalent per se drug statute. Meaning, no matter what quantity of drugs may be in your body, the State must still prove the drugs impaired your ability to drive. Finally, there is no presumption that a certain quantity of a drug leads to impairment.

It is crucial to understand how the State’s expert will likely testify. It is also a good idea to obtain your own expert witness to show the amount of drugs in your body would not necessarily have led to impairing your ability to drive.

 

Aggravated DWI

If you are charged with the crime of DWI, there are five additional things that can make the crime an Aggravated DWI.

1: Driving more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit;

2: Causing an accident resulting in serious bodily injury to -yourself or another person;

3: Attempting to elude pursuit by a law enforcement officer by increasing speed, extinguishing headlamps or, in the case of a boat, navigational lamps while still in motion, or abandoning a vehicle, boat, or OHRV while being pursued;

4: Having a passenger in the vehicle who is under the age of 16; or

5: While having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more.

Besides proving the underlying DWI, the State must prove any of these aggravating factors beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction for Aggravated DWI.

 

Boating while Intoxicated (BWI)

It is against the law to operate a boat while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or be above the legal limit for alcohol. If you are convicted of BWI your regular driver’s license will be suspended.

 

DWI Subsequent Offense

If you already have a previous DWI conviction, you can be charged with a subsequent offense DWI. In order to obtain a conviction for DWI subsequent offense, the State must first prove the underlying DWI, and then the State must prove the previous conviction for DWI.

Presently, there is only a 10 year look back period in the criminal case. If you have a conviction more than 10 years ago for DWI you will not be subject to the mandatory minimum penalties, but the judge can still use it during sentencing to increase your penalties if you are found guilty.

Felony DWI

There are two types of Felony DWI charges; all the others are either Class A or Class B misdemeanors.

The two felony DWI charges are a conviction for a fourth or subsequent offense[4], or for an aggravated DWI which resulted in serious bodily injury.[5]


 



[1] N.H. RSA 265-A:Alcohol and drug impairment

[2] N.H. RSA 265-A:2(I)(a)

[3] State v. Taylor, 132 N.H. 314, 316 (1989)

[4] N.H. RSA 265-A:18(IV)(c)

[5] N.H. RSA 265-A:18(I)(c)

265-A:2 Driving or Operating Under Influence of Drugs or Liquor; Driving or Operating With Excess Alcohol Concentration. –
    I. No person shall drive or attempt to drive a vehicle upon any way or operate or attempt to operate an OHRV:
       (a) While such person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drugs, prescription drugs, over-the-counter drugs, or any other chemical substances, natural or synthetic, which impair a person's ability to drive; or
       (b) While such person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or in the case of a person under the age of 21, 0.02 or more.
    II. No person shall operate or attempt to operate a boat while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive or any combination of intoxicating liquor and a controlled drug or drugs, prescription drug or drugs, over-the-counter drug or drugs, or any other chemical substance or substances, natural or synthetic, which impair a person's ability to drive or while such person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or in the case of persons under the age of 21, 0.02 or more.

Source. 2006, 260:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2007. 2012, 267:2, eff. Jan. 1, 2013.

 

265-A:3 Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated. – A person shall be guilty of aggravated driving while intoxicated if the person drives, operates, or attempts to operate an OHRV, or if the person drives or attempts to drive a vehicle upon any way, or if the person operates or attempts to operate a boat:
    I. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any controlled drug, prescription drug, over-the-counter drug, or any other chemical substance, natural or synthetic, which impairs a person's ability to drive or any combination of intoxicating liquor and controlled drug or drugs, prescription drug or drugs, over-the-counter drug or drugs, or any other chemical substance or substances, natural or synthetic, which impair a person's ability to drive and, at the time alleged:
       (a) Drives or operates at a speed more than 30 miles per hour in excess of the prima facie limit;
       (b) Causes a motor vehicle, boating, or OHRV collision resulting in serious bodily injury, as defined in RSA 625:11, VI, to the person or another;
       (c) Attempts to elude pursuit by a law enforcement officer by increasing speed, extinguishing headlamps or, in the case of a boat, navigational lamps while still in motion, or abandoning a vehicle, boat, or OHRV while being pursued; or
       (d) Carries as a passenger a person under the age of 16;
    II. While having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or, in the case of a person under the age of 21 at the time of the offense, 0.02 or more and, at the time alleged:
       (a) Drives or operates at a speed more than 30 miles per hour in excess of the prima facie limit;
       (b) Causes a motor vehicle, boating, or OHRV collision resulting in serious bodily injury, as defined in RSA 625:11, VI, to the person or another;
       (c) Attempts to elude pursuit by a law enforcement officer by increasing speed, extinguishing headlamps or, in the case of a boat, navigational lights while still in motion, or abandoning a vehicle, boat, or OHRV while being pursued; or
       (d) Carries as a passenger a person under the age of 16; or
    III. While having an alcohol concentration of 0.16 or more.

Source. 2006, 260:1, eff. Jan. 1, 2007. 2012, 267:3, eff. Jan. 1, 2013.

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